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Ducks @ Sabres RECAP: Stumbling Into the Break

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3 consecutive losses have the Ducks relieved at the Christmas break.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

After back-to-back losses that had Anaheim searching for answers on how to score goals, Saturday night’s matchup against the Buffalo Sabres did them no favors.

The Ducks were shut out by a score of 3-0, and have now scored a grand total of 2 goals in the last 9 periods of play.

Rasmus Dahlin, the reigning first overall draft pick and 18-year-old wonder-kid defenseman, kicked the scoring off for Buffalo late in the first period on, you guessed it, a power play goal. Since the game against the Rangers, the Ducks rank 27th on the PK at just a 72.7% rate and are 0 for 12 on the power play during that span.

Those frustrations took their toll on Anaheim with the game being marked by several arguments and after-the-whistle-scraps, especially between Brandon Montour and Jeff Skinner yelling what I can only assume were platitudes of appreciation at each other’s skills and not at all mean accusations. This included the 10-minute game misconduct and early night for Jake Dotchin, who apparently said one too many words to the referee after the second period had ended.

The third period saw the Sabres extend their lead on a gorgeous goal from Jeff Skinner, who currently sits in 2nd in the NHL with 26 goals scored. The former Hurricane forced a turnover from Pontus Aberg and Hampus Lindholm, drove to the net, and lifted a beautiful backhander over John Gibson to double the lead for the Sabres.

While the Ducks actually showed some fight in the 3rd period, controlling more than 75% of the shot attempts when adjusting for score and venue effects, it was too little, too late. Connor Sheary put the puck into the empty net to seal the shutout for the Sabres and hand the Ducks their 3rd straight loss.

Anaheim is undoubtedly breathing a sigh of relief now with the Christmas break upon them; their next game will not be until December 27th at San Jose, 5 days from now.

Best & Worst

Best: A little more life

While the Ducks’ previous two losses on this trip had been marked by an almost total lack of energy and drive, this loss actually showed some fight. The Ducks dominated the final frame (though not getting much in the way of truly golden chances) and were never particularly outplayed through either of the first two periods. At least the team seemed like they wanted to go into the break with something they could hang their helmets on.

Worst: Third consecutive loss

Just when everyone thought the Ducks were back and getting ready to cruise into the playoffs, they hit us with a string of losses that remind us hockey will do nothing but break our hearts. Yet, we keep coming back anyway. Why? Well, 2007 is a good reminder.

Best: The Christmas break is finally here

Think this team could use some time off with family to decompress and gather their thoughts? Yeah, it definitely can’t hurt.

Worst: Special teams haven’t been very special

Anaheim is now in the bottom five for penalty killing and have not converted on the power play in their last 14 chances. While the Ducks have historically been able to get by with a terrible power play because of a great penalty kill (cough goaltending cough), the strength the team had while being down a man has vanished for the time being. This is a recipe for disaster.

3 Stars

3. Jack Eichel

2. Rasmus Dahlin

1. Jeff Skinner