The Ducks are playing out the string, their hope of postseason play nothing but a flickering light.
So it’s no surprise that they continue to rack up losing streaks. Still, the Ducks are finding new ways to suffer gut-wrenching defeats. Their latest run of setbacks reached four with a 4-3 defeat to the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday at Honda Center.
The score was tied with 16.1 seconds remaining in regulation before star winger Patrick Kane finished a 2-on-1 with his 40th goal of the season.
It was the Ducks’ first home contest since the All-Star break, when the squad made a major move in dealing Brandon Montour to the Buffalo Sabres in return for defenseman Brendan Guhle and a 2019 first-round draft pick. Guhle had 19:09 of ice time in his home debut.
Ryan Getzlaf remained sidelined for a fourth consecutive game with an upper-body injury, but Ryan Miller returned from a one-game absence (lower-body injury) to make 31 saves. He was sharp most of the night, with a glaring exception his play on Artem Ansimov’s short-handed goal.
The veteran center tucked the puck short-side between Miller and the post to push the Hawks to a 2-1 lead with less than four minutes to play in the second period. The Ducks picked up a short-handed goal of their own earlier in the period after Devin Shore’s attempted pass to Derek Grant was broken up by Erik Gustafsson. Shore collected the puck and pushed it past Corey Crawford, who was manning the net for the first time since Dec. 16 after suffering a concussion.
Another Blackhawks player suffered a head injury in the contest after Rickard Rakell rode Drake Caggiula face-first into the boards in the opening minute of the second period. The Ducks winger received a five-minute major for boarding (along with a game misconduct). Caggiula was helped off the ice by Alex DeBrincat (who scored two goals to reach 36) and Marcus Kruger; he didn’t return to the contest after being diagnosed with a concussion. The hit is sure to be reviewed by the NHL, and a disciplinary hearing seems likely for Rakell.
It’s only the latest chapter in a most disappointing campaign for Rakell, who led the Ducks with 34 goals last season. He’s yet to reach double digits in 51 games this season.
“We lose one of our best players, so it was crappy all around,” Shore said, “but you rally around it. ... I think our work ethic is really good.”
The Ducks created plenty of chances and were rewarded early in the third period on a rare puck bounce that went their way. Grant stole the puck from Crawford behind the net and dished it to Troy Terry, who slung it into the net — giving the Ducks a 3-2 lead — before the diving goalie had a realistic chance.
DeBrincat’s goal at 15:06 tied it, before Kane’s heroics.
For the first time during this four-game losing streak, the Ducks scored multiple goals; more importantly, Terry and fellow rookie Max Jones continued to display their immense upside. The opportunity to play against the likes of Kane and Jonathan Toews was a valuable learning tool.