Ducks Manage A Point in Horrible Loss to Los Angeles

Jeff Gross

The Anaheim Ducks might be the luckiest team in the NHL right now as they remain unbeaten in regulation on home ice but ultimately fall to their cross town rival in the shootout 3-2.

Final Score: Ducks 2, Kings 3

First Period Recap: Right from the outset the Los Angeles Kings set to work with their system that has so badly dominated the Anaheim Ducks for the last two seasons. They pressured the puck hard all the way up the ice, threw their weight around, and took shots in bucket loads.

Just under five minutes in Los Angeles had registered five shots on goal, Anaheim had zero. That didn't change until the 9:01 mark when Saku Koivu finally put Anaheim's first shot on the LA net, giving debutante Martin Jones his first save of his NHL career. It was a pretty spectacular one too as a turnover behind the Los Angeles net (for once) saw Daniel Winnik find Koivu streaking alone to the front. Despite a good stickhandle, Jones stood tall and got his arm on the puck.

Anaheim attempted to make a claw back at the momentum but Los Angeles quashed that quickly. The offensive system that has so often sent Anaheim into a panicked scramble put pass after pass through seams that opened almost effortlessly in the middle of the ice (the area I said specifically the Ducks needed to dominate if they wanted to win). Time and time again Los Angeles would also be the first one to rebounds and King forwards would sometimes have two, three, or even four whacks at a rebound before any Anaheim defenseman would do anything about it.

The real problem that reared its head was Anaheim's insistence on trying to push plays through the Kings rather than around them, and this led to both passes and clearing attempts either being blocked and pushed right back into the Anaheim end or turned into a scoring chance.

I've been saying for a while that Anaheim's blueline needs to get more physical and they will with the return of Francois Beauchemin and Sheldon Souray, but they sorely missed that presence tonight. Dustin Brown, Justin Williams, Jarret Stoll, and Anze Kopitar often found themselves wide open on top of Jonas Hiller with ample time to bash away at whatever rebound may have popped out.

By the 17-minute mark of the frame Anaheim had allowed 15 pucks to get through to Jonas Hiller, and remarkably he stood up to all of them.

Anaheim's only real scoring chance other than Koivu's came with just under six and a half to play when Vatanen teed up a feed from a 4-on-2 rush up the ice and fired it into Jones, who toppled over to ensure he kept it snared.

When the dust settled from the period, the score remained level but that was about the only positive sign as Los Angeles had the shots advantage by a score of 17-6.

And it only got uglier.

Second Period Recap: The second period wasn't much better. Anaheim started the frame shorthanded and Los Angeles registered the first seven shots of the second period and continued to absolutely dominate the puck possession, hog tying Anaheim from doing.. well... anything.

At the 7:05 mark it finally burned the Ducks. Off a won faceoff a deflection off Matt Beleskey's skate found its way to Getzlaf. Getzlaf then put his breakout pass right through his own slot onto the tape of Jeff Carter who ripped it past a completely helpless Hiller. Finally on the I-don't-know-what-number-th ugly turnover of the game for the Ducks it caught up to them and Los Angeles had the lead 1-0.

This clearly pissed the Anaheim captain off however. His next shift on the ice the Ducks carried the puck up the ice on an intercepted centering pass from Dustin Brown. A pretty passing play found Hampus Lindholm in the high slot who ripped a shot off the arm of Martin Jones, and a crashing Getzlaf batted the rebound out of midair into the net. Just 46 seconds after Los Angeles took the lead, the game was tied 1-1.

Anaheim finally did start to wake up a little bit and began to test Jones but few, of those shots were of any real "quality."

One other quality chance came late in the period when Ryan Getzlaf sprang Dustin Penner in on a partial breakway. Penner faked to the backhand and was stopped by Jones, though he did take a slash from Drew Doughty in the process.

Not long after on the power play Jonas Hiller was forced to make another great save after Sami Vatanen turned a puck over right at the offensive blueline, resulting in a 3-on-1 that the Kings got two very good shots off of.

Even though Anaheim managed 11 shots this time around, the Kings registered 20. Yeah. After two periods Anaheim had surrendered 37 shots while taking only 17 of their own.

Third Period Recap: Once again Anaheim started the third period with carryover penalty time but they managed to kill it off without too much trouble, and in turn earned a power play of their own when Slava Voynov went off for holding.

On the ensuing power play Cam Fowler wristed a shot towards the net that caromed to Dustin Penner. Penner tapped the puck to a suddenly wide-open Corey Perry standing nearly in the Los Angeles goal crease, who whipped the puck onto his back hand and up and over Martin Jones to give the Ducks the most unlikely 2-1 lead.

However with the game being as lopsided as it had been up to that point it wouldn't surprise you to know Anaheim then surrendered the next five shots on goal, including the one that tied the game off the stick of Dustin Brown. A tied-up faceoff found its way to Brown's stick, who turned with the puck and let a shot go that tipped up off Hiller's arm, got behind him, and bounced over the line. Yes, Hiller should have saved it, but as frustrating as that is the game was tied, and with the Kings now well above the 40-shots plateau it deserved to be far worse.

Anaheim did manage to get some of the momentum back and created some scoring chances. Saku Koivu kept Jones on his toes with a quick wraparound but the young man was alert to the task and made the save pretty easily, despite him also bobbling the rebound for a moment.

The Ducks however continued to force the issue late in the game and it even drew a penalty as Corey Perry had his stick sawed in half by Justin Williams in the dying seconds.

As regulation ended and both teams took a deep breath with their one earned point, the shots board read a horrifying 46-27 in favor of the visitors.

Yeah, the Ducks got flat out dominated.

Overtime Recap: This time it was Anaheim who started the frame with leftover power play time, and not long after that it increased as Corey Perry once again had his stick hacked into two pieces, this time by Willie Mitchell.

This is where things got funky.

NHL rules say a team cannot have fewer than 3 players on the ice at a time, so for the two-man advantage, Anaheim got to put a fifth player back out onto the ice.

They squandered the chance predictably enough, but then right as it was ending, Jarret Stoll collided with Dustin Penner and went down, drawing a very iffy but likewise extraordinarily undisciplined interference call against Penner.

So suddenly it was 4-on-3. Then it went back to even 4-on-4, only because this is overtime that means both teams should be a man down and thus 3-on-3. So at the next whistle both teams lost a man and the game became 3-on-3. It was all very confusing and I've never seen anything even remotely like this before.

Neither team could score on their power plays, however Los Angeles generated some golden chances and Jonas Hiller made some dazzling saves to keep the Ducks' chance to win alive.

Five more shots for LA. One for Anaheim.

Been doing your math? If you did it right you should see that brings the game total to 51-28 on the game. If you didn't see a second of this game, that one stat right there should tell you exactly how this game went: Los Angeles absolutely destroyed Anaheim, who were fortunate to make it past regulation.

Shootout summary: A ton of guys missed, including usual shootout aficionados on both sides. Names like Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Justin Williams, Dustin Brown, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Nick Bonino, and Teemu Selanne all missed. Dwight King scored the only goal in the 10th round and Matthieu Perreault shoved the game-saving shot right into the pads of Jones to seal the inevitable loss.

Anaheim was absolutely destroyed on home ice by LA, but managed to fall in the shootout 3-2. Martin Jones wins his first career NHL appearance.

**********

The Good: Jonas Hiller stood on his head. He made one goof that allowed LA to tie the game at 2-2 with a save he probably should have had, but likewise there were probably 15 more that he shouldn't have. Likewise for flashes it appeared Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry genuinely tried to put the team on their backs like they so often have done. However they were no match for LA's defense who almost entirely contained them for most of the game.

The Bad: 51 shots against?! Can't a goalie get a little help from his defense for crying out loud? And that's WITH the 28 blocks the team contributed as well. That totals to 79 attempted shots without even including the ones that missed the net.

The Ugly: Good lord what an absolutely horrible game. The entire team effort was inexcusably pathetic. The Ducks allowed Los Angeles to have their way with them in nearly every single facet of the game. Pass after pass found its way to the tape of a King's stick rather than a teammate's. Battle after battle for a puck was lost without much of a fight from the boys in black. Race after race for any loose pucks were won almost effortlessly by L.A., even if they trailed the race by two or three steps from the get-go. Anaheim has now lost six straight games to Los Angeles in all competitions. I honestly have no idea what makes the Ducks play this crappy versus their cross town rivals but they can kiss this season series goodbye already if that's how they're going to play.

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3rd Icehole: The fourth line of Tim Jackman, Matthieu Perreault, and Kyle Palmieri was so invisible tonight I couldn't tell you a single thing they did outside of missing their shots in the shootout. This entire unit has been so useless since the Ducks acquired Jackman that it's hog-tied Bruce Boudreau's preferred strategy of running four consistent lines. There has to be more from our bottom unit.

2nd Icehole: Dustin Penner had numerous scoring chances tonight and didn't bury a single one of them. I know he's had a good comeback year but he's been given a ton of stellar chances this season and has missed a bucketload of them. He's got to be more consistent in this regard and start scoring the ones he should be scoring more often. Likewise, taking that unnecessary penalty in overtime slowed the Ducks momentum and even forced them into some desperate moments as the team struggled to kill off the 4-on-3 kill. We also got a chance to see why he still is yet to score in the shootout in his career.

1st Icehole: Literally the entire team's combined collective effort wins the dishonor for this one. Whether or not this was Anaheim's worst game of the season may be up for debate, but it being on the short list for it definitely is not.

Next Game: Friday December 6th at the Chicago Blackhawks

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