After Rickard Rakell’s 31st goal midway through in the first period, the Ducks proceeded to fill a barn with near misses against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. They were also thwarted by 6-foot-6 goalie Anders Nilsson and hit a post and a crossbar in the third period and overtime, respectively.
Two goals in a shootout weren’t enough, either, in a 2-1 loss. Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons scored in the 10th round to deny the Ducks the extra point as they head to San Jose for a big game against the Sharks on Saturday.
Girgensons outwaited goalie Jonathan Bernier and lifted the puck past him to end a clean St. Patrick’s Day game with one minor penalty, to the Ducks. Ryan Getzlaf and Brandon Montour had scored earlier in the shootout but Buffalo extended it both times.
“We carried the play for most of the game,” Kevin Bieksa said.
“Their goal was off one of our guys and in on a lucky bounce. We had plenty chances to score. Their goalie played well. You lose in a shootout. I don’t think you hold your head too far down for this one. We played well.”
It figured as a classic trap game for the Ducks before their regular-season finale against first place San Jose. Buffalo was on its second game in as many nights and went down to five defensemen after Taylor Fedun left the game early after a hit from Jared Boll.
The Ducks didn’t buy into the trap theory, though. They will go into Saturday still confident with points in five of their past six games.
“We’re playing good hockey right now,” Bieksa said. “We’re rolling four lines. We’re rolling six D. We’re playing a team that does the same thing … It’s going to be a good game.”
For the second straight game, Rakell began the scoring with a career-high establishing goal.
He reached the 30-goal mark for the first time Wednesday, and No.31 came in similar fashion in front of the net with his precision hands.
Rakell backhanded in a rebound created by Cam Fowler’s shot.
Montour, back in the lineup after being scratched, made a backhand pass out to Fowler from down low.
Rakell went into this season with 29 goals in the first 165 games of his career. His 31st goal was scored in his 60th game this season.
The Ducks easily could have padded their 1-0 lead but they missed at least five quality scoring opportunities in the second period. Those included defenseman Josh Manson on a lost backhand and Rakell and Andrew Cogliano on shots wide.
AT SAN JOSE
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Update: Cogliano will tie Craig Ramsay for fourth on the NHL’s consecutive-games played list at 776 games. The Sharks have four 20-goal scorers in Joe Pavelski (28), Brent Burns (27), Logan Couture (24) and Patrick Marleau (23). Burns leads them with 70 points but hasn’t scored in 11 games. Jannik Hansen has one assist in five games since he joined San Jose.