As if leaving NHL goals leader Alex Ovechkin open to unleash the game-winning goal weren’t enough Tuesday, even the end of the Ducks’ power-play skid wasn’t the end.
“I’m disappointed in our specialty teams. It’s been our Achilles’ heel all year,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said after a 3-2 loss to his former team, the Washington Capitals, at Honda Center.
“It’s something that we’ve got 13 games to correct, or we’re going to be in trouble.”
Anaheim (45-17-7) believed it stemmed the bleeding of its power-play woes when Mathieu Perreault scored his 14th goal 1 minute 32 seconds into the third period to force a 2-2 tie.
Yet, after the game, an NHL official informed the Ducks that Perreault’s goal came two seconds after the power play expired, not one second before.
So the 15-game skid in the category stands at two for 48, with a failed two-man advantage in the second period especially lingering.
“That game tonight came down to our special teams weren’t special,” Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. “That was the difference in the game. We had 45 shots and only came away with two goals. We have more offensive firepower and need to be better.”
Washington goalie Jaroslav Halak had 43 saves, 18 in the third.
The Ducks (45-17-7) head next to San Jose on Thursday, tied with the Sharks atop the Pacific Division with 97 points.
Washington (33-27-10) remained in the Eastern Conference wild-card race by executing in both specialties.
After scoring a power-play goal late in the first period, the Capitals got the winner when Ovechkin scored his league-best 46th goal — and 20th on the power play — 2:44 into the third.
He set up to the right of Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller and blasted in the shot.
“As far as penalty killing, we knew what they were going to do. It’s no secret,” Boudreau said. “And we still didn’t stop it.”
The Ducks’ remarkable slump has been marked by unlikely events, such as leading scorer Corey Perry missing wide on an open shot, Ryan Getzlaf striking the post, Teemu Selanne losing the puck near the crease and Getzlaf breaking his stick.
That’s how the two-man advantage died, and why Getzlaf remains goal-less nine NHL games after winning Olympic gold with Canada.
The second period was scoreless because Hiller stopped 11 shots, including a stunning reach to his right. Washington forward Jason Chimera also hit the post in the final 90 seconds.
The Ducks’ Daniel Winnik nearly scored at even strength, but defenseman Jack Hillen got his stick on a puck that slid under Halak onto the goal line.
The teams exchanged goals in the game’s first 3:10 when Washington forward Joel Ward scored his 21st goal, rebounding teammate Jason Chimera’s shot.
Less than a minute later, Lovejoy ripped a shot that Halak couldn’t handle to his left side.