Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ducks Succumb to the Wild

The Ducks took another loss tonight to previously 11th place Minnesota, struggling through a tough defense by the Wild. Jonas Hiller, who faced 25 shots tonight, made a few fantastic saves, but not enough as the Ducks fell to the Wild, 3-2.

The Wild's enforcer, Stephane Veilleux, scored in the first 1:09 of the game, which set the Ducks to play catch-up for the rest of the game. He would score again in the end of the second period, on a breakaway that left him with Hiller as his only defense.

The Ducks scored their first goal in the beginning minutes of the second period, on a shorthanded goal, as Todd Marchant stole the puck from the defense behind the Minnesota goal, and wrapped it around the right post before the Wild's netminder, Niklas Backstrom, could scramble back into position from the behind the left post. He sprawled across the goal line, but Marchant was quick and stuffed the puck past him for the first Duck goal of the game. Veilleux would break the tied score with his second goal at 16:38, off a breakaway from the center after James Wisniewski dropped the puck.

The Wild scored again midway through the third to put them ahead by two, as Andrew Brunette snuck behind the defense in the slot and redirected the puck as it skated in front of the goal. Desperate to catch up, the Ducks pulled Hiller from the net in the last few minutes of the game, allowing Scott Niedermeyer to shove the puck into the Wild net as the Ducks crashed.

The Wild's Backstrom had 38 saves, but none as dramatic as Hiller's cat-like grab from mid-air in the second period that kept the Ducks in the game. Unfortunately, in his only start since February 4th against the Wild on the road, his 22 saves tonight weren't enough to keep the Ducks ahead. The Ducks have 68 points and are now in 11th place,with four teams in between them and a playoff spot.

It was a night of upsets around the NHL. 1st place Boston fell to the New York Rangers earlier today, with new Rangers player Sean Avery back on the ice. He had previously been playing in their AHL team, but was recently called up for the playoff run. Chicago was overtaken by last place team Colorado in the Western Conference, while in the Eastern Conference, 3rd place Washington lost to 8th place Pittsburg in a battle between Crosby and Ovechkin, two of hockey's giants. 13th place Atlanta in the Eastern Conference won over 3rd place Calgary in the Western Conference as well.

Still in first place in the Eastern Conference is Boston with a solid 95 points over second place New Jersey with 87 points and Washington who trails closely with 86 points. In the Western Conference, San Jose and Detroit are still tied for first with 94 points apiece, with Calgary following with 84 points and Chicago with 81 points.

The Ducks next play fourth place Vancouver on Wednesday at home, and its starting to get desperate or else I wont be covering Duck's games much longer for the 2008-2009 season.

Lets Go Ducks! (Please!!)

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