Nashville 4, Ducks 1.

With 52 seconds left in the game and a puck having just crossed into an empty Ducks net, Corey Perry slammed his stick over his own goal frame, the logical reaction to a typical Nashville Predators victory.

Wednesday’s was one of those. The Ducks outshot their opponent 41-24 but had only a Saku Koivu goal – not a thing of beauty in its own right – to show for it.

The Preds never trailed in ending Anaheim’s three-game winning streak, taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Jerred Smithson and Patric Hornqvist. After Koivu’s goal halved the Ducks’ deficit at 11:46 of the third, empty-net goals by Sergei Kostitsyn and Shea Weber provided the final score.

“The puck was doing funny things for us,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle told reporters after the game, “and in some of the situations they beat us for 1-on-1 battles with the puck. That was really the telltale story of the game, where they won more little puck battles 1-on-1 where we should have come up with the puck.”

Nashville won its third straight game by the same score, though Anaheim played better than a three-goal difference would indicate. A few of Pekka Rinne’s 40 saves were extraordinary; he also had help from a goal frame that robbed Matt Beleskey and Lubomir Visnovsky in the third period.

Second-chance shots were few and far between, part of Nashville’s blue-collar M.O. for as long as the team has existed.

Even though he didn’t score, Maxim Lapierre had one of the Ducks’ better efforts in his first game since arriving from Montreal. Playing 15:46 while centering the first and third lines, Lapierre put four shots on goal and was one of the few black-clad players consistently charging on net.

Another player making his 2011 debut, Dan Sexton, had the primary assist on Koivu’s goal. He started the game on a third line with Lapierre and Joffrey Lupul and ended it on the second line with Koivu and Selanne.

It was one of those efforts that probably gets a team more than one goal on most nights, but didn’t Wednesday. These things happen.

A few more notes:

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Kings 4, Ducks 1.

The Ducks’ problems ran deeper than the rare four-day layoff – no games, no practices – from the time they were embarrassed in Buffalo on Tuesday to the time they were embarrassed in Los Angeles on Sunday.

The layoff couldn’t explain why the Ducks survived the first period but were walloped in the second, why the Kings knew where almost every Jonas Hiller rebound was going to end up, or why Corey Perry – the team’s leading scorer – chose to take himself out of the game for seven minutes of the third period with his team trailing 4-1.

“You expect after four days off that they will be rusty in some areas,” Randy Carlyle said, “but there was one area we were rusty in and that was competing.”

(I used that quote in the game story too and, while I don’t like to double up, a blunt Randy Carlyle cannot be quoted often enough.)

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Sexton, Levasseur wrap up big weekend for Syracuse.

Dan Sexton’s three-point game Sunday wrapped up a big weekend for the erstwhile Ducks right wing in the American Hockey League.

Sexton scored once at even strength and once short-handed – who knew he could kill penalties? – and added an assist in the Syracuse Crunch’s 5-0 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack Connecticut Whale. Sexton also had a goal in a 4-1 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday, giving him three goals and an assist in two games since his latest AHL demotion.

Defenseman Brett Festerling (two goals, plus-4 rating), left wing Matt Beleskey (goal, assist) and defenseman Mat Clark (goal, assist) also had strong games for the Crunch on Sunday.

Although playing back-to-back games is common for AHL goalies, Jean-Phillippe Levasseur’s weekend bears mentioning. His 32-save shutout Sunday came less than 24 hours after a 42-save effort against the Penguins. The 23-year-old lowered his goals-against average to 2.81 and boosted his save percentage to .918.

With Timo Pielmeier struggling (6-10-1, 3.61, .898), Levasseur looks like the Ducks’ number three goalie by default.

Voros up, Beleskey down.

The Ducks activated Aaron Voros from injured reserve Wednesday and sent Matt Beleskey back to AHL affiliate Syracuse. Voros, who had been battling the flu, accompanied the Ducks on their two-game road trip, which continues tonight in Vancouver.

Beleskey kept mostly fourth-line left wing duty in his second go-around in Anaheim this season. He went scoreless in three games, with two penalty minutes and a minus-2 rating.

Voros, who hasn’t played since Nov. 29, has no points in 10 games this season.

Ducks 4, Dallas 2.

After stumbling to one of their worst starts to a season in recent memory, the Ducks have emerged to win six straight.

One reason for the quick turnaround has to be the emergence of secondary scoring.

Second-line center Saku Koivu extended his point streak to a season-high five games with the game’s first goal, on a redirect of a centering feed by Teemu Selanne. Bobby Ryan scored the Ducks’ final two goals to give him seven on the season. Ryan Getzlaf’s second-period goal — off a beautiful no-look pass from Corey Perry — was his seventh this year. All four players — Ryan, Getzlaf, Koivu and Selanne — are all on pace to score more than 30 goals this season.

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Sbisa up; Syvret, Beleskey, Sexton down.

In a busy day of transactions for the Ducks, defenseman Luca Sbisa is coming back from Syracuse, while defenseman Danny Syvret and forwards Matt Beleskey and Dan Sexton were assigned to the Crunch.

It’s no surprise that the Ducks were looking for reinforcements after a grueling overtime win Tuesday night in San Jose. After starting the season slowly in Anaheim, Sbisa had rediscovered his scoring touch in eight AHL games, posting two goals, nine points and a plus-2 rating for the Crunch. Syvret had a goal and an assist in six games for the Ducks, but had been a healthy scratch the last four games.

Sexton (who missed seven games with a broken nose) and Beleskey (who missed six games with a concussion) have been deemed healthy to play – just not in Anaheim. Neither player had scored a goal this season, and prospects Nick Bonino and Kyle Palmieri were recalled for what has been a mostly successfully NHL audition in the meantime.

Their audition figures to continue tonight at Honda Center against the New York Islanders.

The 23-year-old Sexton hasn’t appeared in an AHL game since last season’s Calder Cup playoffs, when he appeared in six games for the Manitoba Moose. In 41 games with the Ducks last season with the Ducks, the right wing had nine goals and 19 points.

Beleskey appeared in just 15 AHL games at the beginning of last season prior to being recalled to Anaheim, where he had 11 goals and 18 points in 60 games last season. The 22-year-old winger was rewarded with a two-year contract extension in training camp, and with regular playing time alongside Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf in the regular season.

Ducks 3, Tampa Bay 2, OT.

Kyle Palmieri’s first NHL goal, in his first NHL game, came with 4:20 left in the third period of a game the Ducks were trailing 2-1. Ryan Getzlaf showed up on the scoresheet with 2:07 left in overtime.

Clutch scoring and tight defense against the NHL’s highest-scoring team almost seemed to much to ask from the Ducks, but it was exactly what the announced crowd of 13,034 was treated to Wednesday.
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Matt Beleskey has a concussion, other notes.

Matt Beleskey has been diagnosed with a concussion and didn’t take part in practice today at Honda Center. He’ll be placed on injured reserve later today, a team spokesperson said, meaning he will miss Friday’s game against New Jersey and Saturday’s game against San Jose.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that Beleskey isn’t experiencing the worst of the typical post-concussion symptoms – dizziness, blurred vision, headaches, sensitivity to light – and there’s good reason to believe he will miss only the minimum seven days from the time of the injury, which projects to Tuesday.

“I’m feeling all right today,” Beleskey said. “I’m pretty sore in my neck and back, other than that I’m OK.”

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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.
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