Takeaways from Ducks’ 3-2 overtime loss to Islanders
By the end of Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Islanders, three of the Ducks’ four lines consisted of players who hadn’t been matched together this season.
The flu-caused absences of NHL goals leader Corey Perry and team leader Ryan Getzlaf transformed Anaheim’s roster into an unsure unit that needed a second-period power play to find its mojo.
An overtime elbowing penalty by defenseman Sami Vatanen sealed the Ducks’ fate -- New York center John Taveras beating backup goalie Jason LaBarbera 2:18 into overtime.
But if you’re measuring losses, this was not an event that required NyQuil.
Takeaway No. 1: The Perry-Getzlaf absences allowed young players who needed time to produce that chance.
Forward Emerson Etem hadn’t scored a goal in 13 games, but with 1:09 left in the second period, he let one of his four shots fly, and it found net thanks to some crafty screening and leg lifting by teammate Devante Smith-Pelly.
Earlier in the day, Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau had told Etem he’d be a healthy scratch, along with young forward Rickard Rakell.
Then, after Perry awoke sick from a nap, Etem was back in.
“It can be like turning on a light bulb,” Boudreau said of the surprise playing opportunity.
Etem delivered four hits and a takeaway, while Rakell had an assist and two blocked shots in his 11:39 of ice time.
Takeaway No. 2: LaBarbera wants to stick.
While rookie goalie John Gibson missed the first of possibly 19 games due to the diagnosis this week of his groin injury, there have been rumors floated by national hockey writers that Anaheim may pursue a free agent such as Martin Brodeur or Ilya Bryzgalov.
After stopping 16 of 18 shots Sunday in beating Colorado 3-2, Jason LaBarbera rebounded from a bad early goal Wednesday and stopped 33 of 36 overall, with the Islanders scoring their two other goals on power plays.
As long as Frederik Andersen returns to full health after suffering through leg tightness in Friday’s overtime victory at Dallas, the schedule will allow the Ducks to navigate Gibson’s absence with an occasional reliance on LaBarbera.
Boudreau has praised LaBarbera since the preseason, and the goalie made some big saves while keeping the score tied in the third period, allowing Anaheim to gain a point in its first game since March 28, 2008, that had both Perry and Getzlaf unavailable.
Takeaway No. 3: Defensemen Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm expect more.
Lindholm played more than 23 minutes, delivering three hits, and Fowler effectively called out the Ducks for their slow Wednesday start, with or without their leaders.
Takeaway No. 4: Keep the doctor on standby.
Boudreau said “other guys were coughing” Wednesday. After making Lindholm fly separately from the team before the start of their most recent road trip because he was showing some flu symptoms, the Ducks don’t want illness to take hold during this favorable part of the schedule.
They play 11 of the next 13 games, through Dec. 3, in California.
Like Boudreau said earlier Wednesday about the favorable position of his team, which leads the NHL in points, “You have to make hay when the sun shines.”
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