Against the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference, the Ducks hit a season low point for defensive futility in an 8-4 loss to the Thrashers at Honda Center.
Already leading 2-1, Atlanta struck four times over the first 8:17 of the second period to stun a sellout crowd of 17,288.The first three came at the expense of starter Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who was lifted from a game for the first time in four appearances.
As a team, the Ducks missed a chance to win three consecutive games for the first time since November and won’t get a chance to forget this loss until Wednesday at home against the Kings. Teemu Selanne scored twice for Anaheim, and Andrew Ebbett and Bobby Ryan scored the others; the three were linemates this evening.
Ilya Kovalchuck notched a hat trick for the Thrashers. For the Ducks, however, the outcome of this game couldn’t be pinned on one or two players, head coach Randy Carlyle said.
“They don’t feel very good about themselves,” Carlyle said of his team. “I think from a team standpoint, we just have to recognize and … look in the mirror individually, where can you be better? There’s a huge area where we could be better. For whatever reason we weren’t able to get it going today.”
The result begs the question, how does a team even fall behind 6-1 to the Atlanta Thrashers in the first place? Let alone a team clinging to Stanley Cup aspirations?
Taking five consecutive minor penalties in the opening period didn’t help matters, including two in the 13 seconds prior to intermission to give Atlanta a 5-on-3 advantage early in the second.Captain Scott Niedermayer, whose steadiness has been a reliable indicator of his team’s fate the past three seasons — as Scotty goes, so do the Ducks — was a minus-4 for the game and struggled to find the words to match that gaudy statistic.
“We made our share of mistakes, and they scored their share of goals,” he said. “I guess those nights do happen once in a while. We can’t afford it right now.”
Indeed, the Ducks find themselves in a three-way tie for fifth place in the Western Conference standings. But they also have played three more games than the three teams immediately below them, all of whom could knock the Ducks out of the top eight by the time the puck drops Wednesday.
“The whole thing’s a big cluster,” Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf said. “Every day it changes. All we can do is focus on our games.”
On Sunday, one Ducks mistake seemed to compile on another until it was impossible to untangle one Ducks miscue from the next. “We got embarrassed in our building tonight,” said Getzlaf.
The lasting memory – which both Niedermayer and Carlyle said epitomized the loss – will be Niclas Havelid’s 200-foot bank shot from behind his own goal into the Ducks’ empty net that made it 8-4.
Said Carlyle, “It just hit you where the sun
Atlanta scored another short-handed goal earlier in the third period and scored twice on the power play, including a 5-on-3 goal early in the second to make it 3-1.
The best mistake, however, was that of Thrashers coach Craig Anderson, who said he circled Zach Bogosian’s name on the lineup card rather than Ron Hainsey — Bogosian wears number 4, Hainsey number 6 – a simple mistake which prompted the initial delay-of-game penalty.
“That’s the first time I’ve done that in 14 years. I fined myself 300 bucks and hugged all my penalty killers,” Anderson said.
Game summaryhere; event summaryhere.