The Mighty Ducks lost to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday because the puck didn't bounce the way they thought it would.
It was as simple as that.
Each team played a grinding, defensive game, hoping for a break. When one came, San Jose pounced on it, then held on for a 1-0 victory before a sellout crowd of 17,190 at San Jose Arena.
Bob Errey scored on a power play at 2:23 of the second period. Todd Elik, standing in the right circle, started the play with a shot that bounced off of defenseman Bobby Dollas' skate to Pat Falloon on the left side of the net.
Falloon fanned on his first shot, then hit the goal post on his second. The puck flew to Errey, who was all alone back on the right side. He fanned once, then swatted the puck past goalie Guy Hebert.
"The puck never went where any of their guys wanted it to go, except into the back of the net," Hebert said after the Ducks lost to the Sharks for the second consecutive day and the fourth time this season--each time by one goal. It was their ninth one-goal loss of the season.
"We were saying we were snake-bitten a while ago. Now, I'd say we're Shark-bitten."
The teams' style of play ensured a low-scoring, tight-checking game. The Ducks had only 15 shots on goal, a season low, but one more than the Sharks managed.
"We had some chances and (Shark goalie) Arturs Irbe made the really big saves," Duck Coach Ron Wilson said. "Really, it's almost a nothing-nothing game. The goal they got wasn't what they intended. . . . Everybody (on defense) turned the wrong way, and fortunately for them they scored."
The Ducks might have had the play covered if the puck had traveled cleanly from Elik to Falloon to Errey.
Then again, Falloon might have beaten Hebert with the shot that wound up hitting the post.
In the end, the Ducks seemed eager to forget the way the game turned in San Jose's favor.
Wilson said he was pleased with the Ducks' play despite their lack of scoring chances.
Even Hebert didn't seem too troubled by the outcome.
"You can't get too down about how they won the game," he said. "Both teams were pretty tired and didn't want to open it up too much. There aren't too many games where you see the goalie let in only one goal and come away the loser."
Wilson juggled his lines often, particularly late in the game when he hoped something would click and the Ducks could tie the score.
"I was just trying to shake things up and get some fresh guys out there," he said. "I was trying to get them going."
Splitting up the Anatoli Semenov, Garry Valk, Peter Douris line--the Ducks' most effective with 39 points in the last 13 games--didn't work to start the game. Later, when Wilson reunited the three, they were ineffective.
"There were a couple of bad bounces," Wilson said. "We did a good job defensively. We kept them under 10 scoring chances both games. We just have to figure out a way of beating them."