Ducks Fall to Jackets 4-2

Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sport

The Ducks fell behind in the first and kept it close through the middle of the third, but couldn't fight back against Columbus.

Final Score:  Ducks 2, Blue Jackets 4

First Period Recap: It was a measured pace to start the game with neither team really allowing the other to get the puck into anything resembling a dangerous scoring area.  The Ducks were able to get a little something going thanks to a hard hitting/forechecking shift from Ryan Getzlaf which resulted in a redirection/shot from Dustin Penner in the slot, but nothing Sergei Bobrovsky couldn't handle.

Columbus' best chance of the first half of the period or so was a stretch pass to Matt Calvert that nearly got him around the newly recalled Sami Vatanen, but as he tried to make a move on Sami, the Finnish Olympian took the body to break up the play.

Physical play seemed to be one of the directions from the Anaheim coaching staff with Francois Beauchemin, Ben Lovejoy, Getzlaf and Vatanen getting good results from body checks in all three zones.  On the other side of things, Todd Richards seemed to send his guys out to fly up the ice and try to beat that physical play with long passes and speed, but to less effect early in the game.

The Jackets' first spell of real possession came just after the half way mark of the period and the Ducks did well to keep them to the outside for the most part, but Boone Jenner drove the net after dishing to Nathan Horton in the corner opening up space for Ryan Johansen and screening Frederik Andersen from the shot which was perfectly placed in the top corner. 1-0 CBJ.

A minute or two later, Corey Perry got hit in the face with a Hampus Lindholm point shot, but was no worse for wear.

The first penalty of the game was levied against Kyle Palmieri for boarding James Wisniewski with three and a half minutes remaining in the period.  Columbus had some impressive puck and player movement on the PP but their only dangerous chance that got to the net was a Johansen shot deflected off of Beauch's leg and then the post.

And so a very defensively minded period for both teams ended 1-0 to the visitors and shots favoring Columbus 10-8.

Second Period Recap: The second started with a much quicker pace than the first.  Columbus nearly had a point blank opportunity within the first couple of minutes but the puck rolled.  The Ducks also had a good chance when Mathieu Perreault found Teemu Selanne parked in front but Bobrovsky got his shoulder/collar bone/maybe part of his mask on it.

Five and a half minutes into the period the Ducks had their best chance of the game by far as Lindholm sprung Andrew Cogliano with an AMAZING stretch pass from the goal line to the opposite blueline to start a 3-on-1 rush with Getzlaf and Perry.  Cogs passed to Perry on the wing and got the return pass but Bobrovsky made a brilliant save getting back to stop him from hitting the middle of an empty net.

The next few minutes had a pretty good flow, but not many great scoring chances.  It kind of seemed like a win/win for Columbus, in that the open style played into what appeared to be their game plan from the beginning and if it slowed down from there they had the lead to protect.

The Ducks had a few shifts of decent pressure, that resulted in a rather soft (according to some other penalties that had gone uncalled) hooking minor against Calvert to give Anaheim their first man advantage of the game.  The newly formed second unit of Perreault, Palmieri, Selanne, Vatanen and Lindholm spent most of the time on the PP and didn't quite click the first time out.

Immediately after the kill two very surprising Ducks made two very surprising plays as Calvert nearly had a breakaway fresh out of the box but Bryan Allen caught him and did well to deny the shot.  Right after that Dustin Penner chased down a would be icing call.  Two great hustle plays by the less than swift skaters on the team; nice to see.

Then again only a minute later Allen was forced to chop RJ Umberger down or else he would have been in all alone on Andersen.  After a couple of failed clearing attempts Wisniewski's point shot deflected in off of Umberger's skate in front and past Andersen to give Columbus a 2-0 lead with just over three minutes to go.  Umberger turned his skate but didn't kick it in, the play wasn't reviewed and nor should it have been.

In the last minute of the period Palmieri, who was one of the Ducks' best players to that point, did his (and Bobby Ryan's) favorite move, cutting to the net off the rush but Bobrovsky had it sealed off.  On the next rush Columbus got called for an extremely soft penalty, officially called interference, even though Daniel Winnik had the puck.  It could have been tripping, maybe, but he stayed on his feet as well.

The Ducks' PP got one shot away from Ryan Getzlaf, but it was blocked by the foot of Fedor Tyutin and didn't look like it tickled so the first 40 minutes ended with Columbus up by two.

Third Period Recap: The best chance the Ducks were able to muster on the remainder of the power play to start the period was Patrick Maroon jamming in front, but no dice.

Just over three minutes into the period Bobrovsky made two OUTSTANDING saves right off an offensive zone faceoff.  The first was a Palmieri shot that Bob got his left pad on and then Winnik cruised by the front of the net, picked up the rebound and tried to shovel it in on the backhand but couldn't lift it over the glove of a prone goaltender.

A couple of minutes later the Jackets had a bit of a shooting gallery with three shot attempts in close on Andersen but the scrambling Ducks D did enough to rush the shots and keep them out of the net.  At the other end of the ice the Ducks pulled within one on a great forechecking shift from the Maroon, Perreault, Selanne line.  Maroon is starting to make a living off of these backhand passes from the side of the net right into the crease for goals.  At first I thought it was another between the legs special, but not quite.  This time he found Perreault cutting across the crease and Matty P snapped it through the legs of Brobrovsky.

The Ducks had all the momentum going their way until Umberger threw a harmless looking puck to the front of the net that caught Andersen off guard when it deflected off of Beauch's stick and Nick Foligno was right there to put the rebound away and restore the Jackets' two goal lead.

With eight and a half minutes left the Ducks took two penalties deep in the defensive zone on the same play.  First it was Koivu catching Folgno with a high stick then only a second later Lindholm boarded Brandon Dubinsky as he tried to protect the puck facing the boards, and that gave the Jackets two full minutes of five on three time.  Then immediately off the faceoff Beauchemin misfired and was called for a delay of game/clearing the puck over the glass penalty.

After the second clearance on the five on three Getzlaf tried to pressure up ice, but didn't get to the puck before Bobrovsky could send the Jackets the other way on a 5-on-1 break, but it was stopped by an offside whistle.

As the first two penalties wound down Cam Atkinson was given all day to play with the puck to the right of Andersen and eventually got his shot through Andersen's legs and Foligno was on the back door to finish it off.  That cancelled one of the initial penalties so that the Beauchemin delay of game minor could start but the Blue Jackets pretty much used it to burn two minutes off the clock.

The Ducks got one back when Getzlaf chopped the rebound of a Lindholm shot past Bobrovsky.  Good second effort by Getzy not to give up on the play and hammer away even as he was being pushed to the ice by Mark Letestu.  4-2 Jackets.

Boudreau pulled Andersen for the extra attacker with about a minute and a half left but it didn't produce anything and the Ducks lost their second straight for the first time since December 2.

*****

The Good: The Ducks didn't really make many mistakes.  They played decent defensively giving up two power play goals and one off of a bad bounce.  Kyle Palmieri had some jump in his step but without his teammates keeping up with him the Ducks just couldn't create anything off of second chances.

The Bad: This is officially a midseason slump.  Whether it's complacency at the top of the league or looking forward to the Olympic break, the Ducks just haven't shown much urgency to take games over the way they had for the previous couple of months.

The Ugly: We might be starting to see the dangers of Boudreau hockey.  The Ducks goal scoring is drying up a bit and they aren't really able to lock it down enough defensively to make up the difference of late.

*****

Third Icehole: Todd Richards - The Columbus coach had his boys playing a stifling defensive system, refusing to let the Ducks at most rebounds or to get in close, especially after going up by two.

Second Icehole: Nick Foligno - Was in the right place at the right time for two goals that put the game out of reach.

First Icehole: Sergei Bobrovsky - Solid the whole night through but made two or three fantastic saves to keep the game close in the first 40 minutes.

Next Game: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 hosting the Chicago Blackhawks

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