Ducks 3, Columbus 2.

The Ducks will not play another game this month, but not by choice.

Anaheim wrapped up a four-game Eastern trip with another one-goal win, leaning again on their goalie to pull out a tough win in a hostile environment. The wins in Columbus, Montreal and Ottawa gave the Ducks six of a possible eight points on the trip, and brought their January record to 8-3-0.

Teemu Selanne, Cam Fowler and Jason Blake scored goals, Blake his 200th in the NHL. Jonas Hiller had another monster game, finishing with 35 saves, including point-blank stops on Rick Nash and Anton Stralman point-blank in the third period.

The Ducks got a needed cushion when Derek Dorsett was hit with a five-minute major penalty for boarding Corey Perry in the first period. Selanne and Fowler cashed in with power-play goals 61 seconds apart and, just as importantly, Perry returned to the game before the period was over.

Nash scored before the period was over to pull Columbus within 2-1, but Blake’s insurance goal early in the third, on a beautiful backhand flip in front of the net, restored the two-goal margin. Brassard’s power-play goal at 9:54 of the third period cut the lead to 3-2 but the Jackets couldn’t convert with Steve Mason (19 saves) pulled for an extra attacker.

A few more notes:
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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 “Ducks 6, Columbus 0.” »

Columbus 4, Ducks 3.

When is 50 shots not enough?

Apparently Friday, when Columbus goaltender Steve Mason stymied the Ducks’ offensive onslaught in a 4-3 Blue Jackets win — a game that featured more near-misses than a pistol in the hand of a James Bond villain.

The Ducks saved their best for a third period in which they outshot Columbus 25-3 — reminiscent of Wednesday’s 2-1 loss in Minnesota that saw the Ducks outshoot the Wild 16-2 in the third. Like Niklas Backstrom, Mason was living large in the final period, allowing only a Corey Perry goal at 7:22 to bring the Ducks within 4-3.

Bobby Ryan — on his first career short-handed goal — and Saku Koivu also scored for the Ducks, who have now lost four straight on the heels of a six-game winning streak. Jonas Hiller stopped 25 shots, allowing goals to Rick Nash, Chris Clark, Jakub Voracek and Steve Commodore.

More details in tomorrow’s editions. Here are a few more notes:

Continue reading “Columbus 4, Ducks 3.” »

Columbus 3, Ducks 1.

Teemu Selanne’s 609th career goal wasn’t enough for the Ducks, who gave up two quick goals in the second period, and an empty-netter late, in the opening game of their four-game road trip.

With Columbus leading 2-0, Lubomir Visnovsky hit Jason Blake with a long pass, then Blake dropped the puck for Selanne skating up the left wing. His 12-foot shot was the only puck that got past Steve Mason (31 saves).

Jonas Hiller stopped 19 of 21 shots, allowing goals to Derek Mackenzie and Rick Nash. Nash’s empty netter with Hiller on the bench at 19:32 of the final period provided the final score.

Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler missed the game with a broken nose and Danny Syvret made his Ducks debut, playing 15:27 alongside partner Sheldon Brookbank.

More to come.

Ducks singing the post-Olympic blues.

Randy Carlyle has been here before.

As head coach in 2006, six of his Mighty Ducks players were named to their respective national teams to take part in the Winter Olympics. Only five were actually affected by the extra workload, since Scott Niedermayer did not play for Team Canada because of an injury.

But the circumstances (if not the uniforms) were similar at the time of the last Olympic break – Anaheim was in ninth place in the Western Conference standings, on the cusp of a playoff berth, and staring down a 25-game fight to the finish once the Games were over. The club proceeded to go 16-8-1 and improve to sixth place by the end of the season.

Barring a miracle, history will not repeat itself this year.

Continue reading “Ducks singing the post-Olympic blues.” »

Columbus 5, Ducks 2.

The Columbus Blue Jackets were riding a five-game losing streak, were shut out a night earlier in a game that saw them manage 11 shots on goal, and were missing their captain and best player (Rick Nash) due to injury.

For 40 minutes Tuesday night, the Ducks were no match for them.

Foiled early and often by goaltender Mathieu Garon, and unable to exploit seven power-play chances, the Ducks reverted to the kind of undisciplined hockey that marked their early-season struggles.

By the time they developed a sense of desperation in the third period, goals by Lubomir Visnovsky and Ryan Getzlaf were not enough to bring them back. Nor could they overcome their 11th penalty of the evening — Antoine Vermette’s power-play goal with 1:58 left in the third period made it 4-2 to seal the Ducks’ fate.

Garon made 36 saves, the biggest a diving glove heist of Dan Sexton at 11:55 of the first period. It was rivaled only by Garon’s pad save on Bobby Ryan at 15:39 as Ryan tried to finish an odd-man rush.

Jonas Hiller wasn’t nearly as sharp on the other end. Perhaps the loudest applause to that point came when he was pulled for Curtis McElhinney at 13:07 of the second period following the Blue Jackets’ third goal.

McElhinney proceeded to stop seven of nine shots, allowing the goal to Vermette and another to Derick Brassard with 16.5 seconds left in the game.

Visnovsky’s 4-on-4 tally at 9:11 of the third period broke the shutout, and Getzlaf legitimized the comeback bid with a top-shelf goal at 14:56. The Ducks outshot Columbus 17-4 in the final period.

But Anaheim got no help when a shot by Saku Koivu trickled under the pads of Garon 28 seconds into the period then had it waved off; the call was held up after a review. Koivu had been shoved from behind, dislodging the net, which was apparently enough to disallow the goal.

Teemu Selanne missed the game with “flu-like symptoms” and was replaced by Sexton as the second-line right wing.

Both teams were hit with 12 penalties for 33 minutes.