Stars 4, Ducks 3.

It’s never a good day when a coach is asked to recall an overturned goal that went against his team, and has to specify which one.

It hasn’t been a good weekend for Randy Carlyle and the Ducks.

Back-to-back losses to the Sharks and Stars have put their playoff plans on hold, and this one was frustrating on a couple counts. Namely, Teemu Selanne’s goal at 17:56 of the third period and Bobby Ryan’s goal at 19:11, neither of which counted in the eyes of referee Brad Meier.

Those tended to overshadow the goals that counted — by Lubomir Visnovsky, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry — and the fact the Ducks played like a group worn down by Saturday night’s loss in San Jose. The low point was probably a 5-on-3 shift spanning 80 seconds of the middle period during which the Ducks couldn’t get off a shot from within 20 feet of Kari Lehtonen.

Ray Emery (27 saves) lost his second game as a Duck, second game of the season, and second in as many days.

Tomorrow’s game story focuses on the reaction in the Ducks’ room to the calls by Meier, whose crew also missed a too many men on the ice call against Dallas in the second period. There was plenty of steam to be blown off, and Carlyle instructed his players to “do nothing” tomorrow — no practice, no golf — just recharge the batteries for another game against the Sharks on Wednesday, with a playoff berth at stake again.

A few more notes:
Continue reading “Stars 4, Ducks 3.” »

Ducks 4, Dallas 3, OT.

The two points were necessary, but not sufficient, to tide the Ducks over until the end of the regular season.

The confidence they gained by winning in overtime for the second straight game might be.

“We want to use this as a confidence boost for us – and the Detroit game,” Teemu Selanne said after the latest OT thriller. “It was a good sign. Hopefully we can keep rolling. This is what we need now because everyone’s playing well.”

None were better Friday than Lubomir Visnovsky, who recorded the first hat trick by a defenseman in franchise history. He capped the trick (pun intended) with the game-winning goal on a booming slapshot past Kari Lehtonen with 3.6 seconds left in overtime. Visnovsky also had an assist on Selanne’s game-tying goal with 1:03 left in regulation.

Visnovsky’s 51 points rank third among all NHL defensemen and his 12 goals now rank fifth among league blueliners, but he had been slumping — just one goal in his last 18 games prior to Friday. And he knew it.

“Last month was not very well for me,” he said. “After the All-Star break, it was a couple tough games. I needed to wake up. This is the best wake-up for me.”

Visnovsky’s second career hat trick came against the same Dallas Stars team he torched for his first, back on Nov. 2, 2005 as a member of the Kings.

The rest of the game had its share of ups and downs for the Ducks. In short, the second period was down, and the other 45 minutes were up. Dan Ellis hung tough to make 23 saves, including a biggie on the breakaway against Trevor Daley with 1:29 left in overtime.

More in tomorrow’s editions. Here are a few notes that won’t make the paper:
Continue reading “Ducks 4, Dallas 3, OT.” »

Dallas 2, Ducks 1.

Kari Lehtonen barely had to move an inch with the Ducks on the power play. When the Dallas Stars netminder did have to move, he was in perfect position nearly every time.

Corey Perry’s ninth goal of the season was the only tally for the Ducks in a 2-1 loss at American Airlines Center. It was the second one-goal loss in as many games for Anaheim, which travels to Minnesota to face the Wild tomorrow.

With the Ducks skating 5-on-4, Perry’s 10-foot wrist shot completed a give-and-go with Selanne at 8:29 of the middle period to knot the game at 1. Unfortunately for the Ducks, it was the only man-advantage goal in 10:29 of power-play time. Randy Carlyle tried a switch to start the second period, sending out the second line of Jason Blake, Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne on a power-play that carried over from the first period, to no avail.

Anaheim fared slightly better on the penalty kill, at least in the third period, when Dallas spent six of the final 10 minutes on the man advantage. The return of Todd Marchant from an upper-body injury certainly helped, as did the steady play of blueliners Toni Lydman and Andreas Lilja.

The game turned on a Brad Richards breakaway goal at 8:24 of the third period.

Rookie defenseman Cam Fowler, wearing his new jersey #4, had only one giveaway all game, but it gave Richards an odd-man rush through the neutral zone. His shot through from the left circle clanged off the post, off Jonas Hiller’s pad and over the goal line before the goalie covered up. A video review confirmed the goal (which was announced by referee Marcus Vinnerborg – the first European-trained official to join an NHL crew).

Hiller also allowed a breakaway power-play goal to Steve Ott at 14:43 of the first period, finishing with 24 saves on 26 shots. Lehtonen was one better. He withstood a pair of point-blank chances by Bobby Ryan as the second period closed, as well as a 6-on-5 shift in the final minute with Hiller on the bench.

It was the first loss for the Ducks in three meetings between the teams this season.

Ducks 5, Dallas 2.

The Ducks are far from the best team in the NHL but, when they get rolling, might just be the most frustrating — certainly on a good night, like Tuesday.

They take a lot of penalties and on a good night (like Tuesday) will survive; they give up a lot of shots and on a good night (like Tuesday) will survive; they have some forwards with extraordinarily gifted hands and on a good night they’ll all find the scoresheet. On Tuesday, George Parros did too, which tells you what kind of a night it was for Dallas.

Anaheim survived another game-ending injury — this one to Matt Beleskey — plus five minor penalties and 37 shots against to beat the Stars. Jonas Hiller (35 saves) outplayed counterpart Kari Lehtonen (21 saves), who allowed a pair of goals to Bobby Ryan, and one each to Teemu Selanne, Corey Perry and Parros.
Continue reading “Ducks 5, Dallas 2.” »

Dallas 3, Ducks 2.

Jonas Hiller made 49 saves over 65 minutes, and Bobby Ryan scored a pair of goals, but Mike Modano stole the show in the Stars’ shootout win.

Modano, who has spent his entire 20-year career with the Dallas organization, electrified the crowd by scoring the game-tying goal with 1:47 left in regulation of what could be his final game at American Airlines Center. He scored again in the second shootout round against Hiller, then Jere Lehtinen sealed it with a goal in the third round.

Ryan’s team-leading 33rd and 34th goals of the season allowed the Ducks to salvage a point on a night when they were outshot 51-19. His second goal, a sharp-angled power-play tally, gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead at 15:16 of the third period.

With several veterans remaining home, Randy Carlyle went with his youngest lineup of the season. Nick Bonino, Nathan Oystrick, Brendan Mikkelson, Brett Festerling and Dan Sexton got long looks while Ryan Getzlaf (ankle) and Lubomir Visnovsky (hand), as well as healthy scratches Scott Niedermayer, Saku Koivu, Teemu Selanne and Todd Marchant were held behind.

Selanne passes the torch -actually, the puck.

Rarely does a metaphor write itself before your very eyes,
let alone before the eyes of 15,070 onlookers.

Teemu Selanne was the focus of attention even before the Ducks were set to play the Dallas Stars on Monday, when a pregame ceremony at
center ice recognized Selanne for becoming the 18th NHL player ever to score 600
goals. The man he was about to pass in the record books – Jari Kurri,
whose 601 goals are the most by a Finnish-born player – had flown in from Helsinki just for the occasion.

So who would have guessed that Selanne’s big moment would have come with a pass?

It was a very good pass too – more of a chip-shot to lift
the puck over the stick of Dallas defenseman Trevor Daley – that found Nick
Bonino, playing just the second game of his NHL career. The young center
promptly flicked the puck past Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen at 8:11 of the second period for career goal
number 1.

Back on the Anaheim bench, the 39-year-old sitting on goal number 600 handed the historic puck to the 20-year-old
now sitting on goal number 1, both flashing wide smiles.

In hockey, they do not pass torches. They pass pucks.
Continue reading “Selanne passes the torch -actually, the puck.” »

Ducks 3, Dallas 1.

Nick Bonino scored his first NHL goal, and Curtis McElhinney made the most of an emergency start, stopping 30 shots for his second straight victory as a Duck.

After Bonino’s power-play goal – off an assist from Teemu Selanne at 8:11 of the second period – the Ducks padded their lead to 3-0 with a pair of quick-strike goals by Corey Perry and Kyle Chipchura. Loui Eriksson broke the shutout at 14:48 of the third period on a great pass from behind the net by Mike Richards. After that six-minute, 37-second span of the second period, the scoring in the game was complete.

McElhinney was called upon after scheduled starter Jonas Hiller came down with back spasms in the pregame skate. The 26-year-old McElhinney, who had never before won back-to-back games in his three-year career as a backup in Calgary, is now 2-0 with a 2.44 goals-against average as a Duck.

Selanne was honored prior to the game at center ice for scoring his 600th career goal. After receiving an engraved plate from Ducks owners Henry and Susan Samueli, he received a framed poster from Jari Kurri commemorating his first goal and his 600th.

More on Kurri, Selanne and Bonino to come.

Some more notes:

Corey Perry equaled his single-season high in points (72).
Selanne has points in six of his last eight games (two goals, nine points), including the last three straight.
Lubomir Visnovsky has three goals and seven points in his last eight games.
McElhinney has a .955 save percentage and 1.50 GAA in his last two starts (both wins)
Anaheim matched Dallas in the standings with 80 points, nine behind eighth-place Colorado with seven games to play.

Calgary 3, Ducks 1.

The Flames won the faceoffs, the open-ice battles and, inevitably, the game.

Scott Niedermayer scored the Ducks’ only goal, and Jonas Hiller’s black-and-white helmet debuted with a 25-save effort.

The standings picture grew bleaker for the Ducks, who remained nine points behind the idle Detroit Red Wings for eighth place in the Western Conference. The Dallas Stars won, dropping Anaheim into 12th place in the standings.

With the game tied at 1 and 1:35 left in the third period. Calgary took advantage of an ill-advised play by Corey Perry. Looking for a shot, Perry skated the puck around behind the net, then all the way out to the blue line before Jarome Iginla poke-checked the puck off his stick. Rene Bourque picked it up and skated in uncontested for the go-ahead goal.

The Flames made it 3-1 at 3:05 of the third period when Niklas Hagman beat the Ducks’ defense through center ice, then scored off a perfect diagonal pass in the slot from Iginla.

Calgary won 26 of 43 faceoffs, a 60 percent success rate. They also got lucky when Bobby Ryan chose to pass instead of shoot into a wide-open net with about 12 minutes left in the third period, a sequence that could have brought the Ducks within 3-2.

The Ducks fell to 11-19-5 on the road this season.

Dallas 5, Ducks 3.

Playing their second straight game without injured center Ryan Getzlaf, the Ducks’ offense didn’t suffer nearly as much as their defense in Dallas.

Loui Eriksson’s hat trick, including a short-handed goal that opened the scoring, sent the Ducks to their third loss in their last four games. Eriksson’s second goal was the back-breaker — draped by Sheldon Brookbank, he flung a one-handed shot weakly between the legs of Jonas Hiller that somehow eldued the Ducks’ goalie at 6:19 of the second period.

Exactly 30 seconds after that goal tied it at 2, Stephane Robidas’ point shot angled in off the stick of Ducks defenseman Nick Boynton, and the Stars would not trail again.

Saku Koivu scored twice, and Dan Sexton added a pair of assists, in a losing effort for the Ducks. Mike Brown scored his career-high fifth goal for the Ducks, who got 37 saves from Hiller.

Forward Todd Marchant left the game midway through the second period and did not return.

Breaking down Dan Sexton’s breakout performance.

Cut by his junior team at age 19, signed as an undrafted free agent, and standing 5-foot-9 on a good day, Dan Sexton is the last guy anyone would expect to become the Ducks’ brightest spot in a dismal season.

Just ask Sexton himself.

“Three or four years ago,” he said, “I was in no position to even dream about this.”

Which sort of explains his reaction to each of his goals Tuesday, the first two of his NHL career.

Continue reading “Breaking down Dan Sexton’s breakout performance.” »