The Ducks’ momentum officially took a turn for the worse Friday.
If the excuse of a back-and-forth game against a high-scoring Washington Capitals squad served as an excuse in Wednesday’s 7-6 loss in Anaheim, it was tougher to justify a 5-1 loss on the road to Minnesota. Corey Perry deflected a Bobby Ryan shot past Niklas Backstrom 3:30 into the game, but the Wild answered with five straight – including two on the power play and one short-handed – to ice the game.
Curtis McElhinney stopped 21 of 26 shots and looked no less vulnerable Friday than he did two days earlier. He allowed goals on consecutive shots by Eric Nystrom and Kyle Brodziak 27 seconds apart in the second period, making it a 4-1 game, and prompting Randy Carlyle to call timeout. Carlyle allowed his goalie to stay in, but one has to figure that the leash on McElhinney is a bit shorter now. Timo Pielmeier served as the backup for the second straight game, and he might well be the starter tomorrow night when the Ducks visit St. Louis.
Former Duck Matt Cullen, Martin Havlat and Mikko Koivu also scored for Minnesota. Koivu scored at 5:01 of the first period, then blocked an Andy Sutton shot at 7:09 and didn’t return. But the Ducks (32-23-4) couldn’t take advantage of a Wild squad (31-22-5) missing its best player.
The back-to-back losses mean the Ducks are still stuck in the same 68-point logjam at the bottom of the tight Western Conference playoff picture.
A few more notes:
Anaheim fell one game short of its franchise record seven-game road winning streak. The six-game streak serves as the second-longest in team history, and equaled the third-longest streak in the NHL this season (Dallas 8, Pittsburgh 7, Detroit also had 6). The streak was the Ducks’ longest since a six-game stretch away from home from Mar. 19 to Apr. 4, 2009.
For the first time since Francois Beauchemin arrived in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Ducks skated six defensemen. Andreas Lilja was a healthy scratch. Beauchemin was paired at even strength with Cam Fowler (who moved to the right side), while the Andy Sutton-Luca Sbisa and Lubomir Visnovsky-Toni Lydman pairs stayed the same. Beauchemin took over for Toni Lydman on the second power-play unit with Luca Sbisa.
Beauchemin switched from jersey #24 to #23 after its previous owner, Paul Mara, was traded to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday.
Jarkko Ruutu, acquired Thursday from the Ottawa Senators, obtained his visa earlier Friday and is scheduled to meet the team tomorrow in St. Louis.
Making his season debut, Ray Emery stopped 27 of 31 shots in the Syracuse Crunch’s 4-2 loss to the Springfield Falcons earlier Friday.