Ducks appear distracted in 3-2 loss to Jets
The Ducks were on Anaheim ice Tuesday night, but their minds seemed to be on Dodger Stadium.
Goalie Jonas Hiller was beaten by shots that routinely find his glove. The Ducks’ offensive pressure was intense, but the aim was off, with 36 shots blocked.
Because of it, the Ducks’ 22-game unbeaten-in-regulation start at Honda Center ended Tuesday when the last-place Winnipeg Jets of the Central Division claimed a 3-2 upset.
“I never really felt in the game,” Hiller said after surrendering three goals on Winnipeg’s first 11 shots and getting replaced by Frederik Andersen with 4:17 left in the second period.
Hiller, who was 14-0-2 with a 1.86 goals-against average at home before Tuesday, speculated part of it might have been the distractions of the Ducks’ Dodger Stadium game Saturday against the Kings.
Despite a frenzy of 42 shots on Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec, the Ducks got only two past him.
After Ducks center Nick Bonino scored with 9:42 remaining in the third period, Pavelec endured a power play in which Ducks Ryan Getzlaf, Cam Fowler and Matt Beleskey took their best desperate shots at him and came away empty.
It was the Ducks’ first regulation loss at Honda Center since their Game 7 first-round playoff loss to the Detroit Red Wings on May 12.
“To be the first team to beat them here … we battled so hard, you don’t see 36 blocked shots every day,” Pavelec said. “We knew they were coming, but we handled it real well.”
Getzlaf called the loss “one of those games … weird. We threw a lot over the net tonight. You’re going to have nights like that, unfortunate the streak had to end like that.”
With the Kings coming to Honda Center on Thursday before the Dodger Stadium event, Getzlaf said he hoped the loss to the Jets (23-23-5) wasn’t a so-called trap game of lost focus.
“There’s a lot of distractions with this outdoor game, everyone’s been talking about it for two weeks, it’s hard to focus on the two points at hand,” Getzlaf said. “But it’s an excuse our group hasn’t been a part of before and won’t be a part of again.
“When there’s distractions, you have to play through them.”
The Ducks (37-10-5) worked feverishly on two power plays in the second period trying to force a tie only to find themselves down, 3-1, when forward Evander Kane beat Hiller on a high shot to the goalie’s left.
The hosts weren’t sweating too profusely about a surprising 2-1 deficit after the first, considering they lead the NHL with 17 come-from-behind wins.
But a series of little breakdowns sealed their fate.
A Ducks pass hit an official’s skate and forced them to spend an extra minute in the Winnipeg zone. Bonino missed a wide-open shot high and right. Saku Koivu launched a shot over the goal.
Ducks forward Patrick Maroon had an even better chance trying to follow a Francois Beauchemin shot, but he pushed the shot just left of the left goal post, lifting his head in despair.
The Ducks went ahead on Fowler’s blue-line blast 3:59 into the game, with the puck nicking the stick of Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian past Pavelec.
Pavelec had an excuse.
Hiller didn’t for allowing what appeared to be a routine effort by forward Blake Wheeler that eluded Hiller’s glove 5:19 into the game. It was Wheeler’s team-best 18th goal.
“Tough to forget about,” Hiller said.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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