Injury-riddled Ducks lose game, Pronger
If there were a scale of adversity that could be applied to their season, the Ducks would have gone from one to 10 in a few days.
The Ducks were frustrated enough Sunday night after a 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild, but the day became even worse as star defenseman Chris Pronger suffered a broken left foot, further damaging an already injury-ravaged group.
Though no official timetable was given for Pronger’s return, as further X-rays are needed, he probably will be out until February. The injury further thins a defense that is missing Francois Beauchemin, who has a lacerated spleen, for at least a month.
Add center Todd Marchant and goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who were injured last week, as well as shelved backup goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, and the Ducks are wondering if the hockey gods are paying them back for tearing up the NHL in the season’s first three months.
“When it happens really quick like that ... it’s frustrating,” forward Rob Niedermayer said.
Pronger was hit on the side of his foot by a shot from Minnesota forward Mark Parrish midway through the first period. He managed to finish his shift despite being in pain and gingerly left the ice for good when the Ducks cleared the puck out of their zone.
Pronger, who wore a soft cast afterward, said he was trying to get out of the way so goaltender Michael Wall could see the puck.
“It wasn’t that hard of a shot. But it hit me in the right spot. There’s not much padding down there.”
Parrish also hurt the Ducks when he got off a backhand shot on a rolling puck and put it past Wall with 4 minutes 18 seconds remaining to ruin a two-goal night by Teemu Selanne, playing in his 1,000th career game.
The teams combined for five power-play goals in 17 chances. The Ducks, who were dominating the game when the teams played at even strength, cited a penalty as the pivotal point.
After giving the Ducks a 1-0 lead in the first period, Selanne was called for diving on a play in which he was cross-checked by Wild defenseman Nick Schultz during a power play.
Instead of a two-man advantage the Ducks expected, Selanne went to the penalty box. He was joined by Ryan Shannon 1:22 later for high-sticking. The Wild gained a two-man advantage when Kurtis Foster’s penalty expired, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard tied the score.
It was the first of three consecutive power-play goals for the Wild, which seized opportunities created by a bench minor for too many men and a holding penalty on Sean O’Donnell that led to another five-on-three advantage.
“The tide of the game turned when the referees called the diving,” Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said, withholding any criticism of the call.
As the game ended, Selanne exchanged several words with referee Brad Meier before leaving the ice. He expressed disbelief over the penalty.
“I haven’t been surprised like that in a long, long time,” Selanne said. “It’s something where I would love to open up and say what I really feel. But I’m not going to. It’s not worth it.”
The Ducks stayed cool enough to rally back from the 3-1 deficit. Scott Niedermayer banged in a rebound late in the second period, and Selanne tied the score at 3:26 of the third with a slap slot past Minnesota goalie Manny Fernandez for his second straight two-goal game.
They had chances to take the lead but were foiled by Fernandez or couldn’t connect on opportunities.
Fernandez made 27 saves, and Wall stopped 25 shots in his third NHL start.
“We kind of buried ourselves with all the penalties we were taking,” center Ryan Getzlaf said. “We played a pretty solid game until we got our little penalty parade going.”