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Ducks @ Islanders RECAP: Nothing Gained in New York

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Ducks can’t solve Lehner, end road trip with a 3-0 loss to the Islanders.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at New York Islanders Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Anaheim Ducks saw their two-game winning streak end with a 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Sunday. It’s always tough playing the tail end of a back-to-back, but the Ducks were severely outplayed throughout the entire 60 minutes. They did themselves no favors by going down 2-0 early in the first period. They never recovered and struggled to get any sort of offense going the entire game. With the loss, the Ducks finish their road trip 2-2-1 and sit two points out of a wild card position.

1st Period

Anaheim hurt themselves early on, possibly showing some fatigue from playing a back-to-back, getting called for too many men on the ice. While on the penalty the Ducks failed to clear the puck after breaking up a pass. Cal Clutterbuck snuck into the slot past the Anaheim defenders, received a pass and quickly fired it top corner to beat Chad Johnson.

Just five minutes later, Clutterbuck would get his 2nd goal of the game. Adam Pelech sent a slap-shot on net from the blue line and Johnson gave up a juicy rebound. Clutterbuck was the first one to the puck and put it in the same corner as last time to beat Johnson again.

2nd Period

The Ducks showed some brief energy early on, with Josh Manson getting behind the Islanders defense for a breakway opportunity. He faked the backhand and tried to slip it five-hole, but Lehner got just enough of his pad on it to keep it out.

With just 30 seconds remaining, Devin Toews received a pass at the blue line and put a high wrist shot on net. Leo Komarov was able to get a tip on the puck sending it downward with Johnson on his feet, making it 3-0.

3rd Period

The Ducks looked pretty much flat throughout the third period (along with the rest of the game). It took them about halfway through the 3rd to register their first shot of the period. They showed no signs of generating a genuine offensive momentum swing which led to them not even pulling the goalie and letting time expire.

Best and Worst

Worst - No offense whatsoever. Besides an early 2nd period attempt by Manson, Islander’s goaltender, Robin Lehner really didn’t have any hard saves to make and only had to make 19 in all. The Ducks just looked tired and flat. Carlyle made several changes to the lines throughout the game, but it didn’t generate any different results. Basically, erase this game from memory and try better next time.

Best - I guess John Gibson showing why he deserves the Vezina. Want to see what the Ducks would look like with an average/below average goaltender? Go back and watch this game. Without Gibson, a lot more games would be ending like this one.

Worst - Randy Carlyle and, at this point, Bob Murray. Let’s not talk about Carlyle’s failure this season. Let’s focus on another coach for a minute.

The Islanders last year finished with 80 points on the season which placed them 22nd in the league and had them watching the playoffs at home. They allowed the most goals against per game (3.57) and had a -32 goal differential. Then they lost their best player, John Tavares, for nothing. Enter Barry Trotz into a year where everyone thought the Isles would get worse. The Islanders currently sit 1st in the Metropolitan division and 5th overall in the league with 62 points. They’ve won 12 of their past 15 and have scored 3 or more goals in 12 of those 15 games. They have the (current) lowest goals against per game (2.47) in the league this season and have a +26 goal differential. All while losing John Tavares for nothing.

My point is coaching can make a huge difference. Yet Bob Murray “is more focused on our players, and is not considering a coaching change at this time”. The Ducks wouldn’t become contenders overnight with a new coach, but to think a good coach wouldn’t immediately improve the morale and day-to-day play of the Ducks is just poor GM work, in my opinion.

The Ducks get to head back to Anaheim for one game and take on the St. Louis Blues before the All-Star break. Puck drops at 7pm PST.