The Ducks did themselves no favor tonight as they lost 2-1 in regulation to the Detroit Red Wings. The Ducks did most things right in this one as they dominated in shots and faceoffs, and even took less penalties to everyone’s disbelief. However, a poor turnover in the first got the Ducks playing from behind. A late push from the Ducks saw them cut the lead in half, but it wasn’t enough as the final seconds ticked off.
The Anaheim Ducks really have no margin of error left if they hope to make playoffs. This loss is the 5th in the last 7 games played for the Ducks, with 3 of those 5 being against teams in the bottom ten of the NHL. With the loss, the Ducks stay at 65 points with 58 games played. They are in a very unfortunate, self-inflicted situation as they are still one point back of a playoff spot with all other battling teams having games in hand.
The Ducks came out looking fast and dominating possession in the first. They had the pressure going with Detroit netminder, Jimmy Howard, having to make some good stops early. It wouldn’t be a Ducks game however without two things: a bad penalty from Nick Ritchie, and a bad play from Kevin Bieksa. Ritchie took the honor of getting a penalty first. After a whistle blew, there was some traffic in front of the Detroit crease, and Ritchie took a cheap shot against Niklas Kronwall. Fortunately the Ducks were able to kill it without losing much momentum.
Anaheim’s best opportunity early on came from Jakob Silfverberg having a wide open opportunity. As a slap shot was sent wide, it came off the back boards right onto Silfverberg’s stick. With Howard on the opposite side of the net, Silf threw it off the post. The puck still ended up in the net, but it came after the whistle so no goal (after review).
Things took a turn when Bieksa made one of the worst plays of the season. As he went to make a pass to start a breakout, he did not see Dylan Larkin circling from behind the net. Instead of clearing the puck, Bieksa put the puck right on Larkin’s stick who was alone in front of the net. Larkin made a quick backhand and scored to make it 1-0. The video tells it best.
This would end the first period with the Ducks outshooting the Red Wings 15-5.
The second period saw the Ducks get another goal reviewed and called a no-goal. This time Ritchie swatted a loose puck in the crease and, according to the review, used his stick and momentum to push Howard into the net which caused the puck to get lose and also end up in the net.
Detroit added to the Ducks frustration by adding to the lead in the second as well. With a rebound going behind the net, four Ducks all faced the back boards. Anthony Mantha was first to the puck and just sent it backwards towards the slot. Frans Nielson was in perfect position and put a one-timer past John Gibson.
Anaheim was able to get the lead back to one late in the third, courtesy of Adam Henrique. Bieksa put a shot on net and Howard couldn’t get a clean save on it. Henrique was able to crash in and bang home the rebound. This gives him 11 points in his last 13 games.
Bieksa took a late tripping penalty, which gave the Ducks no real time to get an extra attacker out with the goalie pulled. The final buzzer sounded and the Ducks skated to the locker room disappointed and frustrated, I’m sure.
The Anaheim Ducks will be back in action Thursday when they head to United Center to take on the Chicago Blackhawks.