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.
For the third time on a three-game road trip, the Ducks lost by one goal. And for the third time, the margin was best described by the tightly contested circumstances in which the winning goal was scored:
On a night when Ryan Getzlaf missed his first game of the season — along with injured forwards Teemu Selanne and Joffrey Lupul — Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle had his work cut out for him Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild. Divvying up the time on ice was a challenge, but the end result was a 4-2 victory.
It’s almost hard to believe, given how well he has played in his brief NHL career, that Bobby Ryan merely matched a career high with his three-point game Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild. (Didn’t he sprinkle a four-point game in there somewhere? Maybe a five-pointer?)
Perhaps this is more evidence of Ryan’s consistency, something that’s impressed Saku Koivu in their three-plus weeks together as linemates.
“I heard about him a lot before I got here and how talented he is,” said Koivu, who was on the ice for all four Ducks goals Tuesday. “I get surprised with his consistency. He doesn’t take too many nights off. As an older guy, the one thing that I can do is push him a bit more and make sure there won’t be as many nights where you can’t find him.” Continue reading “Bobby Ryan’s big night.” »
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.
Just when it seemed like the Ducks had found new ways to win — on the road, on the backs of Joffrey Lupul and Bobby Ryan — they found another way to lose.
Leading 4-2 with five minutes left in regulation, the Minnesota Wild scored twice to send the game into overtime, then potted one more than the Ducks in the shootout en route to a 5-4 victory before another sellout crowd of 18,265 at Xcel Energy Center.