The toughest losses are the ones you don't deserve. With a tremendous offensive effort and multiple scoring opportunities, the Ducks should have had this game in the bag, but lost to the incredibly tough defense of the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2.
The first goal of the game went to the Blackhawks, just three minutes into the first period. The Ducks got their chance to retaliate halfway through the first after the Blackhawks were called on a bench minor for too many men on the ice. With a man advantage, Bobby Ryan scored a power play goal, continuing his 5 game goal streak and increasing his tally to 11 for the month of January alone, a rookie record.
The Ducks still struggle with keeping penalties to a minimum, which the Blackhawks took advantage of. Less than four minutes after tying the score, Steve Montador is put in the sin bin for roughing. Blackhawks player Patrick Kane found the back of the net on the powerplay, putting them ahead by one.
The Ducks would fall further behind in the first few minutes of the second period after another Chicago goal by Jonathan Toews. With a two goal lead, the Ducks were desperate for a goal to get back some momentum. Salvation came in the form of Travis Moen, who scored a shorthanded goal after Ducks player Chris Pronger was sent to the penalty box on a hi-sticking call. Unfortunately for the Ducks, that would be the last goal of the game, leaving them with a one goal deficit at the end of regulation.
The third period, although seemingly boring in the boxscores yielding nothing more than a trivial penalty to Ryan Carter for holding, was one of the more intense 20 minutes of the game. For almost four minutes, the Ducks controlled the puck in the Blackhawk zone, taking multiple shots, none of which were successful. One shot seemed to go in, but the goal was waved off on account of the net being moved by a Blackhawk player that fell over it, to the lament of the Ducks. They pulled netminder Jonas Hiller from the goal in the last 1:19, but even with an extra attacker, the Ducks couldn't get one past Blackhawk goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. Khabibulin blocked 36 of the 38 attempts of the Ducks to score.
Hiller started in the goal tonight, for a consecutive night after winning over the Phoenix Coyotes last night with a score of 7-3. He blocked 24 of 27 shots tonight.
Tonight also saw the return of Teemu Selanne, who had been absent from the last 17 games on an injury from a leg laceration. While his performance tonight wasn't exactly noteworthy, it was one more step on his road to perfect recovery.
This loss puts the Ducks back to tie the Coyotes for second in their division, despite the ass kicking they delivered last night. Also tied are the San Jose Sharks and the Boston Bruins, for first in the league. The Ducks next face the Colorado Avalanche in Denver on Friday. The Avalanche have suffered through a startlingly bad first half of the season, and were most recently shut out by the San Jose Sharks tonight, 3-0. Here's hoping the Ducks can emulate that performance.