Ducks 6, Columbus 0.

A lot of things culminated for the Ducks tonight – an awesome month for Jonas Hiller, a revamped power play, the maturation of the young defensemen, and whatever strain of influenza is running through the visitors’ dressing room.

Randy Carlyle wasn’t afraid to highlight the latter in explaining the Ducks’ most lopsided win of the season and their largest on home ice since Dec. 20, 1996, a 7-0 win over Calgary.

“We were able to establish that template,” Carlyle said. “When we do
get on the puck and establish that strong forechecking game, we are a
hockey club that can be effective. Tonight was one of those nights. We
caught Columbus when they were a flat hockey club. They had the flu go
through their team. We seemed to have a half step on them tonight.”
Continue reading

Nashville 4, Ducks 1.

With 52 seconds left in the game and a puck having just crossed into an empty Ducks net, Corey Perry slammed his stick over his own goal frame, the logical reaction to a typical Nashville Predators victory.

Wednesday’s was one of those. The Ducks outshot their opponent 41-24 but had only a Saku Koivu goal – not a thing of beauty in its own right – to show for it.

The Preds never trailed in ending Anaheim’s three-game winning streak, taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Jerred Smithson and Patric Hornqvist. After Koivu’s goal halved the Ducks’ deficit at 11:46 of the third, empty-net goals by Sergei Kostitsyn and Shea Weber provided the final score.

“The puck was doing funny things for us,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle told reporters after the game, “and in some of the situations they beat us for 1-on-1 battles with the puck. That was really the telltale story of the game, where they won more little puck battles 1-on-1 where we should have come up with the puck.”

Nashville won its third straight game by the same score, though Anaheim played better than a three-goal difference would indicate. A few of Pekka Rinne’s 40 saves were extraordinary; he also had help from a goal frame that robbed Matt Beleskey and Lubomir Visnovsky in the third period.

Second-chance shots were few and far between, part of Nashville’s blue-collar M.O. for as long as the team has existed.

Even though he didn’t score, Maxim Lapierre had one of the Ducks’ better efforts in his first game since arriving from Montreal. Playing 15:46 while centering the first and third lines, Lapierre put four shots on goal and was one of the few black-clad players consistently charging on net.

Another player making his 2011 debut, Dan Sexton, had the primary assist on Koivu’s goal. He started the game on a third line with Lapierre and Joffrey Lupul and ended it on the second line with Koivu and Selanne.

It was one of those efforts that probably gets a team more than one goal on most nights, but didn’t Wednesday. These things happen.

A few more notes:

Continue reading

Ducks at the WJCs, Day 11 (part ).

Down 3-0 after two periods, Igor Bobkov and Team Russia weren’t content to go down as a footnote in the gold-medal game at the World Junior Championships on Wednesday.

Bobkov – a 2009 third-round draft pick by the Ducks and the only Canadian Hockey League player on Russia’s roster – relieved starter Dmitri Shikin with 13:33 left in the middle period and stopped all 20 shots he faced. Bobkov watched his teammates score five unanswered goals in a span of 16:11 of the third period to claim the 5-3 victory and the gold.

Artemi Panarin scored twice, Yevgeni Kuznetsov had three assists, and Vladimir Tarasenko, Nikita Dvurechenski and Maxim Kitsyn all had goals for Russia.

Tournament MVP Brayden Schenn, Ryan Ellis and Carter Ashton had the goals for Canada.

Ducks at the WJCs, Day 11.

Consider this the last Ducks-related World Junior Championships update, unless Canada fans get their wish and see backup goaltender Igor Bobkov in the gold-medal game between Russia and Canada.

The U.S. went out on a high note today with a 4-2 win over Sweden that clinched the bronze in Buffalo. Kyle Palmieri had a pair of assists, including the primary helper on Chris Kreider’s goal to wrap up the victory with 1:53 left in a 3-2 game.

In six tournament games, Palmieri had six points (two goals, four assists), which co-led the Americans along with Charlie Coyle (a San Jose Sharks prospect) and Chris Kreider (Rangers). Only 13 players had more points in the tournament – though that could change after the gold-medal game.

Emerson Etem was held scoreless Wednesday, finishing the tournament with a goal and a minus-1 rating in the six games.

Getzlaf out 4-6 weeks.

Ryan Getzlaf will miss four to six weeks, but won’t need surgery to repair the non-displaced nasal sinus fractures he suffered Dec. 28.

That was the timetable put forth after Getzlaf had a CT scan performed this week. It came as good news to the Ducks’ captain, who will be out until the second week of February at the latest.

“It was pretty scary for the first few days after the first CT scan,” Getzlaf told reporters Wednesday, sporting a hockey puck-sized scar between his eyebrows. “We weren’t really sure what exactly was wrong. There were a lot of different fractures and stuff going on up there. We went through another, more invasive one two days ago and looked at it yesterday with the doctor, and everything was good. It was what we wanted to hear. There are some fractures up there that definitely need to be healed but they’re nowhere near my eyes or my brain, so it’s definitely a positive thing from yesterday.”

Including the game in which he was injured, a 3-1 road win against the Phoenix Coyotes, the Ducks are 3-0 without Getzlaf. Corey Perry has maintained his All-Star caliber season without his usual center, notching a goal and two assists in the last three games, and may need to keep up his point-per-game pace. Bobby Ryan’s switch to center could last the duration of Getzlaf’s injury and new acquisition Maxim Lapierre will be leaned on to provide depth down the middle.

The Ducks host the Nashville Predators at 7 p.m. tonight.

Sexton up, Lapierre receives his passport, etc.

Updating an earlier item, the Ducks officially announced that Dan Sexton has been recalled from AHL affiliate Syracuse. Sexton hasn’t been with the Ducks since Dec. 18. In the meantime, he’s scored four goals and nine points in eight AHL games.

Sexton and center Maxim Lapierre might both play their first NHL games of 2011, after Lapierre received his American work visa and became eligible to play tomorrow night against Nashville.

The team is still awaiting word on Ryan Getzlaf to determine an exact timetable for his recovery from multiple nasal sinus fractures. Count on him missing a third game since he suffered the injury a week ago in Glendale.

Randy Carlyle told reporters after Tuesday’s practice that Jason Blake (shoulder) is a possibility to play tomorrow. If he can go, the Ducks have plenty of options at forward.

Ducks acquire Guenin from Columbus for Smith.

In a minor trade for the Ducks but a big trade for the Syracuse Crunch, center Trevor Smith has been traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for defenseman Nate Guenin.

Guenin has played three NHL games this season for Columbus, all in October, and will report directly to the Ducks’ AHL affiliate. A former third-round draft pick by the New York Rangers in 2002, Guenin has appeared in 17 NHL games beginning in 2006-07 with the Philadelphia Flyers. He has no goals, two assists and a minus-3 rating at the NHL level.

In 30 AHL games this season, all with the Springfield Falcons, Guenin has no goals and five assists with 21 penalty minutes.

The Crunch lose their leading scorer in Smith, who has 12 goals and 27 points in 35 games this season. Syracuse figures to get help at center from Nick Bonino, whom the Ducks demoted Monday.

The Syracuse Post-Dispatch reports that the Ducks are recalling right wing Dan Sexton, though the team hasn’t made an official announcement. Sexton has seven goals and 15 points in 14 AHL games this season.

Ducks at the WJCs, Day 9.

It was a somber day for Emerson Etem and Kyle Palmieri at the World Junior Championships. The American forwards were held scoreless as the U.S. lost 4-1 to Canada in the semfinals, dashing their gold-medal ambitions in Buffalo.

The U.S. will play Sweden in the bronze-medal game Wednesday.

Goaltender Igor Bobkov didn’t play in the Russians’ 4-3 shootout win over Sweden in the other medal-round semifinal matchup. Bobkov has pretty much ceded the starting goalie position to Dmitri Shikin.

Bonino sent to Syracuse.

Nick Bonino has been assigned to the Syracuse Crunch, two months and a day after the Ducks recalled the rookie forward from their American Hockey League affiliate.

Getting extensive playing time as a third-line center, Bonino established himself as a reliable defensive player. He was tied for eighth among active forwards with an overall minus-3 rating – not bad considering the team’s minus-10 goal differential – and a plus-1 on the road, best on the squad. But the 22-year-old also had the ignominious distinction of playing in more games (26) than any NHL player without a point.

Bonino’s fate was sealed after the Ducks traded for Montreal Canadiens forward Maxim Kitsyn on Friday, demoted Bonino to the fourth line and moved him to left wing for the first time since he was in high school.