There was Corey Perry, bending his way in front of the crease, but the puck struck iron.
There was Brandon Montour, gliding down the ice with Rickard Rakell alongside him, and only one defender to deal with, but the defenseman’s wrist shot sailed over the crossbar.
The Ducks generated countless grade-A scoring opportunities, but they couldn’t quite nail down the equalizer. The Ducks lost to the Sharks 3-2 on Saturday at Honda Center in Game 2 of the first-round series.
The series shifts to the Bay Area with the Sharks leading 2-0 and the Ducks desperate for a victory. But the club at least can be proud of its effort.
“The guys are working hard, it’s just those little chances or little bounces and breaks that aren’t happening,” Montour said. “So we gotta keep working hard, keep our head down. It’s gonna come. We’re going to get our way here.”
This was a far cry from Game 1, when the Sharks controlled the game en route to a shutout. The Ducks proved early on this story would play out differently, even if the result was another loss.
Bodies were flying following violent collisions as the Ducks set the tone. Nick Ritchie, Francois Beauchemin, Hampus Lindholm — they all delivered crushing blows in the early going that jump-started the squad.
Jakob Silfverberg put the Ducks on the board just 40 seconds in with a shot near the blue line. The winger was the only Ducks player in the Sharks’ zone, and three players harassed him, but Martin Jones somehow let the puck slide by him.
The Sharks’ Melker Karlsson tied the score nine minutes later. Then San Jose struck again. And again.
The Ducks once again found themselves in a second-period hole, but this time they didn’t stop pushing forward.
During a second-period power-play scrum behind the net, Ryan Kesler kept the threat alive by kicking the puck over to Ryan Getzlaf. The captain found Lindholm, who fired a wrist shot past Jones for the Ducks’ second goal.
“If you look at the game, it was a much more evenly played game than the other night,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “We still could be a lot cleaner in the neutral ice. We seem to be under the impression we can skate through there and do some things.
“When we simplify and get the [puck] in, we can give teams problems with our offensive game. Right now, it seems like it takes us more tries to get through the neutral ice than is necessary.”
The chances kept coming for the Ducks down the stretch, but they simply couldn’t take advantage.
Opportunities came and went, and when they could least afford it, Perry was called for interference. With less than four minutes remaining, the winger slammed into Karlsson and his helmet went flying. (Carlyle admitted Perry could have been “less violent” on the play. )
Instead of setting up for the game-tying goal, the Ducks were forced to kill off the two-minute minor.
And now, they head to San Jose with their playoff chances a bit dimmer. They’re down but not out.
“We’ve been down two before, they gotta win four, the series isn’t over,” Montour said. “Obviously it’s tough to lose two at home here, but it’s a series and we’ll come back and play hard.”