The Mighty Ducks were shut out by a goalie who was nowhere near sharp Thursday. They gave up a breakaway goal to an enforcer who had never scored a goal in the NHL and another goal that their own goalie helped to roll into the net.
The road show that has earned them such positive reviews didn’t do much of anything against the Washington Capitals, who played patient, physical hockey and shut out the Ducks, 3-0, in front of 17,616 at USAir Arena.
“It was just one of those games tonight where we didn’t play well,” captain Troy Loney said. “I see no reason for us to go to a panic situation or anything. It was just a bad game for us.”
Rick Tabarraci made 26 saves, earning the fourth shutout of his career. Maybe he should have been credited with more saves, though, because he kept having to make saves on his own saves after the puck popped out of his glove, as it did one final time on Terry Yake’s shot with 27 seconds left in the game. This time Tabarraci simply fell on it and became the fourth goalie to hold the Ducks scoreless this season.
“He was mishandling a lot of pucks, and not really controlling rebounds,” Duck Coach Ron Wilson said. “He looked really shaky to me at the start.”
The Ducks failed to take advantage of that shakiness. Their passing was less than sharp, and they spent much of their time on the power play retrieving the puck from their own end.
The Ducks were on the other end of a shutout two days earlier against the New York Islanders. This time, Ron Tugnutt watched the other goalie celebrate.
“I think he was actually struggling tonight,” Tugnutt said. “I’ve seen him play before, and I think he was fighting it.”
The Capitals scored the only goal they needed at 18:20 of the first period, when Mike Ridley scored on a screen shot from the slot.
The Ducks allowed a momentum-deflating goal at 12:18 of the second, when Enrico Ciccone came out of the penalty box, took a pass off the boards and skated in alone to beat Tugnutt with a backhander.
It was his first goal in his 66 NHL games. His role is tough guy--he has 117 penalty minutes in 25 games this season and fought Stu Grimson on Thursday.
“The worst thing I could have done was look up and see who it was,” said Tugnutt, who did.
“I looked up, and the first thing I thought he was going to do was dump it in the corner. He put a pretty good move on me, he really did. He’s got a long reach. Those guys are tough to stop. I’m sure they don’t have a clue what they’re going to do, and if they don’t, I certainly don’t.
“I don’t think he’s been in that position many times. I think he did well that time.”
Of course, the problem was that Ciccone was in position for a breakaway chance at all.
“We should know this guy’s coming out of the box. We should be prepared for that. I was banging my stick, I was screaming. I could see it happening,” Tugnutt said. “That’s a mental error. . . . And you know, it ended up probably being the turning point.”
There was still another goal to be scored though, when Dimitri Khristich scored his 19th goal of the season when his weak shot was initially stopped by Tugnutt, then rolled in off his pad as he tried to cover it or clear it.
“If I would have just let it sit there, someone would have knocked it in,” Tugnutt said. “If it was on my glove side, it would have been easier. Unfortunately, I had a stick in my hand. It was just one of those things.”
And one of those nights.
Defenseman Alexei Kasatonov played after missing one game with flu. The Ducks, who are 0-7 against recent expansion teams, will have two chances to get their first victory this weekend. They play at Florida on Saturday and face Tampa Bay at Orlando on Sunday.