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What we learned from the Ducks' 2-1 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres

It began just like the previous game — on a Rickard Rakell goal — but then it descended into one missed opportunity and bad bounce after another for the Ducks.

They got a point out of a 2-1 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Friday and can’t spend much time lamenting what could have been with Saturday’s game against the San Jose Sharks on tap.

Here’s what we learned:

Little things count in big games

The Ducks can’t afford to miss this many chances against Pacific Division leader San Jose, let alone against a Buffalo team that is playing for next season.

Credit some of it to the Sabres and 6-foot-6 goalie Anders Nilsson, who denied Ryan Kesler at the beginning of the third period and stopped eight of 10 shootout attempts.

The rest was a lack of finish by the Ducks and puck luck in the form of Corey Perry’s shot striking a goal post as well as Jakob Silfverberg’s shot striking a crossbar.

The Ducks took 40 shots, missed 22 and had 14 others blocked.

“At one point in the second period we were outchancing them, 7-1, and they get a goal,” Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said. “That gave them life and we had all kinds of opportunities before that. But we just didn’t finish.”

San Jose is still catchable

The Ducks haven’t paid much attention to the standings, at least publicly, and have stuck to the mindset of just making the postseason playing well.

But a fifth-straight Pacific Division title is still within their grasp. They are six points behind San Jose and can close that to four with a win Saturday and 10 games remaining.

“We’re going into a tough building, but we’ve played well in there before,” Carlyle said. “We’re not shaking in our boots by going in there, that’s for sure.”

Brandon Montour should get more shootout attempts

It takes a lengthy shootout for a coach to turn to a defenseman, but Montour has forward-like skill and instincts. He can put the puck in the net in that situation.

He buried a half-slap shot to the top of the net in the ninth round against Nilsson. It was his first career shootout attempt in the NHL, and probably not his last.

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