Ducks lose a wild one, trade Mara to Montreal.

Alex Semin’s third goal of the game, with 1:47 left in the third period, sent the Ducks to a wild 7-6 loss to the Washington Capitals at Honda Center.

Easily lost in the 13-goal outburst was the fact that the Ducks squandered a golden opportunity to take over first place in the Pacific Division.

The Dallas Stars suffered their second loss in as many days, 4-2 to the Calgary Flames, creating a five-way logjam in the Western Conference standings. The Ducks (32-22-4) are mired in the middle with the fourth through eighth-place teams all tied at 68 points. The entire Pacific Division is separated by two points, from first-place Phoenix (30-19-9, 69 points) to fifth-place Los Angeles (32-22-3, 67 points).

Just easily overlooked was the postgame announcement of a trade.

Paul Mara is heading to Montreal in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2012 draft. The veteran defenseman had only appeared in one game since Dec. 18. Prior to that, he had been surpassed on the depth chart by Andreas Lilja, and only had a goal and an assist in 33 games, averaging 20:10 time on ice.

Mara was one of nine defensemen on the Ducks’ roster after Francois Beauchemin was acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs last week. The fifth-round draft pick is reportedly the same pick the Ducks sent to the Canadiens in exchange for forward Maxim Lapierre in December.

Mara’s lone goal this season was the game-winner on Nov. 7 against the Nashville Predators, at the tail end of a breakaway with 1.7 seconds left in the third period of a back-and-forth game.

Coincidentally, the Ducks lost in similar fashion Wednesday.

Despite getting goals from six different players, Semin ensured the Ducks’ offensive outburst would go for naught. He completed the hat trick by sneaking a puck between the left arm of Curtis McElhinney and the near post – an ugly way to lose if there ever were one.

But McElhinney had no place to hide on an ill-timed off night (24 saves on 31 shots). Rookie Timo Pielmeier dressed as the backup, with Jonas Hiller having been placed on injured reserve prior to the game.

“It was frustrating and a difficult night,” McElhinney said. “The offense put up six goals
and we end up giving up seven. A better performance was needed from me
tonight and it wasn’t there. It’s disheartening to let the boys down
like that.”

Randy Carlyle offered a broader, blunt criticism.

“It seemed like we lost all of our focus on the things that we’ve done in the previous three weeks or month,” the former Norris Trophy-winning defenseman said.

Ryan Getzlaf (goal, three assists), Teemu Selanne (goal), Toni Lydman (goal, plus-2), Corey Perry (goal, three assists), Lubomir Visnovsky (goal) and Bobby Ryan (goal, assist) all padded their stats.

Defenseman Luca Sbisa was a plus-1 with a pair of assists, including a beautiful (roughly) 100-foot long pass to Perry that set up a short-handed breakaway goal early in the second period. That gave the Ducks the biggest lead of the game (for either team) at 4-2.

Rookie defenseman Cam Fowler, who finished a minus-5, said “there is no excuse” for the loss.

“We’ve been playing well lately and have been able to beat some good
teams on the road,” he said. “There is no reason why we should come back in our
building and put on an effort like that.”

The trivia-type notes were many, but I’ll save those for the next blog entry.

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