In tonight’s Pacific division matchup, the Ducks matched up against the Dallas Stars in the finale of a three game set. The Ducks coming into the game have second place in the conference and were hoping to take four out five from the Stars in the season series. With a fantastic first period the Stars denied the Ducks their third win in a row.
At the start of the first period, the Ducks forced the issue early to be the more aggressive team with keeping the puck in the Stars’ zone. Leading the charge was Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan, who were trying to pick up the slack with Ryan Getzlaf out for the game. Every chance the Ducks had was denied by the Stars’ goalie Kari Lehtonen.
With such aggressive play this made the Ducks very susceptible to the counter-attack from the Stars. The Stars finally made their move with Antoine Roussel finding Lane MacDermid behind the Ducks defense for the goal. MacDermid put a backhand over the right shoulder of Viktor Fasth.
Only twenty seconds after the goal by MacDermid, the Ducks finally lit the lamp. Off a face-off Bryan Allen flipped the puck down the ice which hit the boards and it was collected by David Steckel. He then centered the puck to Andrew Cogliano, who put the puck top shelf. With all of the opportunities in front of the net, the Ducks finally got one in.
The Ducks defense continued to struggle without Getzlaf in the middle. Even being shorthanded, the Stars still put pressure on the Ducks defense to perform. The Stars cleared the puck out of their own zone which drew Viktor Fasth out of the crease. With Fasth out of the goal, Eric Nystrom took advantage by beating Perry to the puck and scoring on a wrist shot over Fasth’s stick.
Fasth on the goal, “I misread the speed of the puck or maybe I overestimated my skating ability. It was a bad decision by me so I have to learn from it and do it a different way next time.”
Still trying to work out the kinks in the defense, the Stars kept the relentless onslaught of offense going. Less than a minute left in the period, Alex Chiasson split the front line and played give and go with Vernon Fiddler for the tip in goal. This was Chiasson’s first NHL goal at the age of 22.
When the first period came to a close, the Stars were not only winning but making the most out of their chances on goal. They outshot the Ducks 16 to 9 but put 3 in the back of the net. The Ducks were the more physical team out hitting the Stars 9 to 7. About the first period Bruce Boudreau said, “if they scored the first goal or if they got a lead coming out of the first period, they were going to be tough.”
Coming out of the locker room to start the second period, the Ducks seemed to have solved the defensive problems. Dallas had a more difficult time getting clean looks at the net as well as skating through the defense.
At 12:17 left in the period, there was some pushing and shoving in front of the net which caused Matt Beleskey to get called for a cross checking and for an unsportmanlike conduct. In total he had to spend four minutes in the box, which raised his penalty minutes to 54 minutes on the season. Not only were the Ducks able to kill the penalty but also try a couple short hand shots on goal.
Even though the Ducks outshot the Stars in the second period, they were still being outshot for the game 22 to 18. Not only were the Stars winning the shots on goal battle but they were also taking it to the Ducks winning 55% of the face-offs.
Entering the third period, the Ducks needed a quick spark to ignite their offense but nothing seemed to go their way. Shots were being turned away by Lehtonen or by the posts. From the last two games against the Ducks, Lehtonen gave up four and five goals but tonight he was on top of his game.
Five minute into the period, Teemu Selanne just missed bringing the Ducks to within one goal when the puck hit the post and bounced out. Missed opportunities liked this doomed the Ducks.
The entire game, the Ducks struggled to find a rhythm on the power play without Getzlaf. In the last seven games they have scored two goals on 14 power plays. In tonight’s game, the Ducks only had five shots on goal in 7:27 minutes of power play time.
Not only were the Ducks struggling to get the power play going but they were getting called for several penalties. Dallas had 6 power play opportunities with over 10 minutes with an extra man. In order to beat good teams, the Ducks need to cut down on the penalties and capitalize on their own opportunities.
When the ice settled after the game, the Ducks suffered a 3-1 defeat which is only their fourth regulation loss at home. The Ducks next game is against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday at six o’clock.