The Ducks improvised Saturday night. Through no practice. Through a fluke loss.
On any other night, they likely would’ve fumed at the circumstances of a loss to a Pacific Division rival, but two days after Christmas, a 2-1 shootout loss to the Arizona Coyotes was met with something of a shoulder shrug.
Here's what we learned:
Watch that stick blade
Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen was a stalwart in net Saturday night, stopping 28 shots through overtime, and then denying the Coyotes in the shootout with two left leg pad saves while clutching another shot to his gut.
On the Coyotes’ fourth try, forward Shane Doan let rip a shot with such fury the black blade cover slipped off, grabbing Andersen’s attention more so than the smaller puck, which skidded to the net to the goalie’s left.
That decided the outcome.
“Apparently, I have been using [the stick] in a lot ... [of] regular games,” Doan said afterward. “It’s one of those things that you hope it can get some bounces going your way. I was trying to go five-hole, and shoot it a little bit quicker before I get it too close because, obviously, he’s a big goalie and he covers up a lot of space.”
Andersen had a great post-game line, “Too bad you don’t get a save for saving a blade,” he said, adding he wasn’t crushed leaving town with the point of an overtime loss.
“It looked like he was going to shoot that way, and then the puck … before I realized, it was too late,” he said.
The Ducks muddled through one of their most lethargic periods of the season while getting blanked in the second.
The visitors had minimal scoring chances, were fortunate Andersen had the opportunity to get a good, long look at 11 of the Coyotes’ first 18 shots being sent in by defensemen, and showed the effects of four full days without being on the ice.
“The pace was indicative of not skating,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “The sharpness, passing wasn’t quite on. Fatigue set in sooner rather than later, in regard to shift length.”
The Ducks also lost 22 of their first 35 faceoffs.
The injury spell is not over yet
Boudreau said forward Kyle Palmieri (shoulder) will be sidelined one-to-two more weeks after being injured last week in Toronto.
Forward Tim Jackman, who was subjected to a cheap hit to the head Monday against San Jose, will require further evaluation before he can return, Boudreau said.
Meanwhile, right wing Corey Perry could return as soon as Sunday against Vancouver after his Dec. 5 knee sprain.
Call these sparks of life
Forward Rene Bourque, who’d been goal-less in seven games on 12 shots, contributed a first-period goal.
Forward Dany Heatley, who remains goal-less this season, played more than 11 minutes and was elected by Boudreau as the first Duck in the shootout. He missed, but it was a vote of confidence that the veteran has been lacking.
And defenseman Francois Beauchemin played his first game since late November, when he suffered a broken finger, taking three shots with two hits and a blocked shot in 22:45 of ice time.