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What we learned from the Ducks' 3-2 shootout loss in Washington

Ryan Getzlaf's absence showed itself more tonight than against Nashville

You can’t win them all, they say.

The Ducks are like every other fierce competitor who hates that axiom, but when Anaheim’s roster has its points leader and NHL wins-leading goalie absent, well … .

Add in a stiff back-to-back road test against a Washington Capitals team that is 10-1-1 in its last dozen home games, and there’s an acknowledgment of what the 3-2 shootout loss was.

A moral victory.

Takeaway No. 1: Ryan Getzlaf’s loss was more profound Friday than it was Thursday.

When the captain was hurt in pregame warm-ups in Nashville, a game the Ducks wanted badly after poor showings against two other strong Western Conference contenders, San Jose and Chicago, adrenaline took over.

In Washington, facing a goalie in minor-league call-up Philipp Grubauer who was making his NHL season debut, the need for the playmaker who has 36 assists was stark.

Without Getzlaf, the Ducks were outworked over a lengthy stretch from the second half of the second period to the first half of the third.

“You lose your captain, it obviously hurts, but we haven’t made excuses all year [while] we’ve missed players on the blue line ... and everywhere before, too,” Ducks center Ryan Kesler said.

“This team battles, we have a lot of character in that room, a deep, tight room. Losing the captain hurts, but it’s not going to keep us down.”

But it would be nice to have him back for Sunday's game in Tampa Bay ... .

Takeaway No. 2: Ilya Bryzgalov found his game.

It’s been a long, patient wait, but the goalie the Ducks believed they were getting when they signed the free-agent veteran backup emerged in a 32-save performance.

“He played well, made key saves, it’s why we got him,” Kesler said of Bryzgalov. “He made the saves he needed to make to win the game. Too bad we couldn’t get him one more.”

Although he ached for a win against the team that fired him in 2011, Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau wasn't in the dumps after, praising Bryzgalov for delivering what he said was, “by far, in my mind,” the goalie's strongest game since returning to the Ducks.

“He’s a goalie who’s going to play for us,” behind 29-win starter Frederik Andersen, Boudreau said. “He’s going to have to sink or swim. Tonight, he swam.”

Takeaway No. 3: Are back-to-backs starting to wear on the Ducks?

They were beaten by Chicago, 4-1, on Jan. 30 in their most recent one, and at times were a shadow of themselves Friday.

“We weren’t sharp in the third period, weren’t pushing the pace, making simple plays,” center Nate Thompson said. “It’s back-to-back for everyone, no excuse.”

The next such test is Feb. 20-21 in Calgary and Edmonton.

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