Washington 5, Ducks 1.

The storyline was different this time, but the result was a familiar one for the Ducks on this six-game road trip.

After allowing an early goal, Anaheim (24-23-7) resiliently battled the Washington Capitals (35-12-6) for 40 minutes, then ran out of gas in an up-and-down third period.

Washington scored a mere 36 seconds into the game when Alexander Ovechkin was inexplicably left alone in front of the net, and easily tapped in a rebound past Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who was getting a rare start 24 hours after Jonas Hiller lost in Atlanta.

Having been introduced to the reigning league MVP, the Ducks’ defense buckled down considerably on Ovechkin and the high-flying Capitals. When they didn’t, Giguere was almost never out of position, sprinkling in several point-blank saves among the 34 he made through two periods.

The Ducks tied the game in the second period when Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth allowed a long rebound off a deep Sheldon Brookbank slapshot. The puck came to Dan Sexton in the left faceoff circle, and the Ducks rookie didn’t miss a wide-open net at 11:23.

But Washington, which leads the NHL at 3.81 goals per game, made up for lost time by teeing off against Giguere in the third period.

Shaone Morrisonn angled a deep slapshot in off the skate of Steve Eminger at 1:15 for the go-ahead goal. Mike Knuble scored 56 seconds after, and Alexander Semin scored on a breakaway at 4:15, making it a three-goal game in a three-minute span.

Semin provided the final score with another goal, this time during a 5-on-3 shift, at 11:47.

The Capitals’ eighth straight win is the team’s longest in 26 years.

The Ducks fell to 1-3 on the road trip, which resumes in Tampa Bay on Friday. Giguere stopped 44 shots in his first start since Jan. 3.

Chicago 5, Ducks 2.

The Ducks had to do all the little things — and all the big things — to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks, owners of the Western Conference’s best record, on the road Sunday.

After hanging on for 26 scoreless minutes, both areas of the game caught up with the Ducks.

“We had a couple opportunities on the power play,” head coach Randy Carlyle said. “In games like this, that can make a world of difference. We had our fair share of chances. We had lots of 2-on-1s, we got scoring opportunities, but we hit posts or their goaltender made some big stops.”

“We didn’t do enough to force ’em. A couple 2-on-1s, we just skated right in. We didn’t change the angle of the puck.”

Petteri Nokelainen scored twice in less than two minutes of the third period to salvage a more respectable final score. But Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi was otherwise invincible against the Ducks, stopping 22 of 24.

Blackhawks forwards Kris Versteeg and Troy Brouwer scored on Jean-Sebastien Giguere (23 saves) to put Chicago up 2-0 going into the final period. Then Marian Hossa did the biggest damage early in the third, scoring at even strength at 1:14, and again on a power play at 3:41, to effectively put the game away.

“I thought we did come out and play sort of the type of game we have to play in here … we were skating, we were making simple plays,” Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer said. “We had a couple chances; if those go in it’s a different game. They capitalized on theirs and it started to pile on at the end. It’s gone this way for us a fair number of times before this year.”

Sheldon Brookbank and Evgeny Artyukhin collected the assists on both goals for the Ducks (16-19-7), who will try to shake a three-game losing streak against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday in Anaheim.

Sharks 5, Ducks 2.

The gap between first and last in the Pacific Division isn’t getting any smaller, literally or figuratively.

The Ducks are now a full 16 points behind the first-place San Jose Sharks after losing 5-2 on Saturday, their second loss in San Jose in the last nine days. Unlike in their 4-1 loss at HP Pavilion on Dec. 17, in which they kept it close early then fell behind late, the Ducks were outworked early and often, falling behind 5-0 with six minutes still to play in the middle period.

Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere stuck this one out after getting hit hard, allowing goals to Patrick Marleau (twice), Dany Heatley, Ryane Clowe and Jamie McGinn. Kyle Chipchura and Bobby Ryan scored in the second and third periods, respectively, to turn a blowout into a mere downer.

Chipchura scored his second goal of the season, and second as a Duck, by checking former Duck Kent Huskins to the ice, stealing the puck, and skating in unobstructed with 1:04 left in the second period.

Ryan had to work a little harder for his 17th goal of the season, crashing the net for the rebound of a Corey Perry shot, then whacking it in between the legs of Evgeni Nabokov (32 saves) at 4:39 of the third period.

Ryan Getzlaf left the game in the second period after sustaining a cut on his leg in traffic, but color analyst Brian Hayward said after the game that the injury isn’t serious.

Duck killer Joe Thornton had three assists and Sharks captain Rob Blake added two. George Parros, Chipchura, and Matt Beleskey all dropped the gloves for the Ducks, fighting Frazer McLaren, Scott Nichol and Jed Ortmeyer, respectively.

The Ducks (15-16-7) return home to face the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night at Honda Center.

Phoenix 4, Ducks 0.

A day after one of their most inspiring efforts of the season, the Ducks were flat from start to finish in Glendale.

There must have been some magic in the snow, because the Ducks left it all behind in Colorado after coming back to beat the Avalanche 4-2 on Tuesday. They couldn’t score on former teammate Ilya Bryzgalov, who needed only 21 saves to record his league-leading fifth shutout of the season.

Outshot 11-7 and 13-6 in the first two periods, respectively, the Ducks (15-15-7) did a better job controlling the zone in the third period, when they kept the shot count even at 8. But Phoenix’s suffocating defense, combined with some sloppy puck-moving — possibly fatigue-induced — kept the Ducks from scoring the goal needed to spark another comeback.

The recently reliable second line of Bobby Ryan, Saku Koivu and Dan Sexton combined to put one shot on Bryzgalov all night.

On the other end, Jonas Hiller wasn’t as sharp as he was in Denver, stopping 25 of 28 before giving way to Jean-Sebastien Giguere with 8:02 left in the third period. Giguere let in a power-play goal to Robert Lang to provide the final score, the only goal he allowed on four shots.

The Ducks get a couple days off before facing the Sharks in San Jose on Saturday.

Niedermayer, Giguere, Pronger on SI’s all-decade team

Sports Illustrated senior hockey writer Michael Farber has chosen three standouts from the Ducks’ 2007 Stanley Cup-winning squad for the magazine’s all-decade team, part of a series of all-decade teams in the major sports that will hit newsstands tomorrow.

Scott Niedermayer was named a first-team defenseman, along with Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom. Jean-Sebastien Giguere was chosen the second-team goalie (behind Martin Brodeur), and is joined by defenseman Chris Pronger.

Also, Mike Babcock was named the all-decade head coach. Babcock got his first NHL head coaching job with the Mighty Ducks in 2002, leading the team to the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals, before joining the Detroit Red Wings in 2005-06.

San Jose 4, Ducks 1.

Joe Thornton had a jumbo night at HP Pavilion: Two goals andtwo assists, helping the Sharks break a five-game losing streak at the Ducks’ expense.

The final score doesn’t reflect a game that Jean-Sebastien Giguere did well to keep close for 53 minutes. It was 2-1when Thornton scored on a power-play putback at 13:23 of the final period,and Devin Setoguchi made 4-1 at the 16:11 mark following a neutral-zone turnover — one of 20 in the game by the Ducks.

Giguere sprinkled in some beauties among his 33 saves, getting the start after Jonas Hiller won the night before in Vancouver. Ryan Getzlaf scored 34 seconds into the final period, taking a nice passto completea breakaway strike with the Ducks skating 5-on-4.

If you’re close to a radio, go catch me on 830-AM for the postgame “Duck Calls” show with Josh Brewster.

Detroit 3, Ducks 2, OT.

Todd Bertuzzi scored his second goal of the game at 1:06 of overtime, sending the Ducks to another loss at Joe Louis Arena.

Rather than a game Detroit squad, the loss was more a result of the Ducks shooting themselves in the foot with 10 minor penalties, resulting in 10 Detroit power plays and a pair of man-advantage goals.

The Ducks managed to lose the 2-0 lead they took into the third period on goals by linemates Saku Koivu and Dan Sexton. Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 28 of 31 in goal.

Joffrey Lupul missed the game with numbness in his leg. He was replaced at left wing by Matt Beleskey on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

More details in tomorrow’s editions.

Ottawa 4, Ducks 3, SO. Updates.

After epitomizing the definition of back-and-forth hockey for 65 minutes, the Ducks settled for their second consecutive shootout loss, 4-3 to the Ottawa Senators.

Since beating the Chicago Blackhawks at Honda Center on Nov. 27, the Ducks have posted five straight losses to fall to the bottom of the Western Conference standings. That’s deceptively dire — parity across the league has left the 15th-place Ducks eight points out of the final playoff spot — but it’s producing the usual sense of urgency.

“It’s desperation for us right now,” forward Corey Perry acknolwedged. “We’re at the 30-game mark. We have to put something together and go on a run here or we’re going to be out of it pretty soon.”
Continue reading “Ottawa 4, Ducks 3, SO. Updates.” »

Dallas 3, Ducks 1; Selanne breaks hand.

Saku Koivu scored 88 seconds into the game, and that was the end of the Ducks’ good fortune.

Teemu Selanne was lost for the game, and probably longer, with a broken bone in his left hand he suffered while blocking a shot in the second period.

In the third period, the Stars got all three of their goals to seal the win. The first was a serious dose of bad luck for goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who could not stop a puck off the skate blade of James Wisniewski from going in his net at the 1:50 mark. James Neal, the last Dallas player to touch the puck, was the beneficiary.

Giguere appeared to stop Steve Ott’s shot at 3:01, but instead it trickled slowly through his pad and over the goal line to give Dallas the lead.

The Stars’ Brenden Morrow scored into an empty net with 42 seconds left while Giguere, who stopped 34 of 36, was pulled for an extra attacker.

Held without a point, Corey Perry’s franchise-record point streak ended at 19 games, 32 short of Wayne Gretzky’s NHL record.

As wins mount, Giguere’s confidence soars.

It’s tough to know exactly what Jean-Sebastien Giguere was thinking when Dustin Byfuglien flattened him, then stumbled over him, midway through the second period Friday. Maybe he thought Byfuglien wanted to fight — after all, the Blackhawks’ forward did the service of removing Giguere’s helmet — as the Ducks’ goaltender responded with a quick shove.

Whatever Giguere was thinking, he needs to keep thinking it.

By all accounts, his confidence hit a high-water mark in Friday’s 3-0 shutout victory over Chicago. It was the 32nd of Giguere’s career but his first in a season that has seen him cast him as trade bait more often than an emotional leader.
Continue reading “As wins mount, Giguere’s confidence soars.” »