Sunday, April 5, 2009

Like a big Shark in a little Pond

The Ducks lost 3-2 to the Sharks at the Honda Center tonight, after winning in the Shark Tank in San Jose the previous night with an astounding 5-2 score.

Tonight's game seemed to progress from a very controlled and disciplined first period, to the eventual chaos that called for 15 penalties in the third period alone.

From a team that is ranked 3rd for the shots/goals percentage for powerplays in the NHL, the Sharks were expected to take advantage of any penalty opportunity they could. The Ducks, incidentally ranked second for earning the most penalty minute on average per game (18 minutes- almost an entire period spent a man short) needed to be disciplined tonight, to lessen the opportunity for the Sharks to take advantage.

Even with those seemingly ominous stats, the Ducks surprised everyone by scoring the first goal of the game shorthanded. After Andrew Ebbet earned a minor for holding the stick, Petteri Nokelainen somehow escaped the Duck's zone with the puck on a breakaway, and scored on his own rebound after San Jose goaltender Brian Boucher turned away his first one-on-nobody attempt, just five minutes into the first period.

The Sharks waited a whole period to tie up the game with a goal from Jeremy Roenick in the opening minutes of the middle stanza. It would be the only goal of the game that was scored with a full team on each end of the ice. Ten minutes later, Shark player Jody Shelley was slammed off the ice into his bench by an impressive hit by George Parros and His Mustache. Incensed by the hit, Shelley shoved Parros and His Mustache and earned a penalty for slashing. Corey Perry added salt to the wound by scoring on the ensuing powerplay, knocking in an erratically bouncing puck to put the Ducks ahead by one.

Their lead was soon lost as Sharks player Joe Pavelski got the puck between the posts past Hiller to tie the game at 2, on a powerplay after a Rob Niedermeyer penalty for charging.

In the last period, Drew Miller and Chris Pronger earn two separate penalties a minute apart, leaving the Ducks down two men and putting Jonas Hiller to the test. Miller was caught holding, earning a two-minute minor, and as Pronger was looking to clear the puck out of the zone, his enthusiastic pass sent the puck over the glass, earning him an automatic delay of game minor penalty. The Ducks were able to kill the holding penalty, but still down one player for the delay of game call, Sharks player Jonathan Cheechoo shot the puck past Hiller for the go-ahead goal that would eventually win the game.

The scoring was over, but the penalties kept coming. Corey Perry gently voiced his disagreement with some of the calls the refs made, including the call on his hi-sticking. It would only add to the tension of the last few seconds of the game. As the final horn sounded, every player on the ice dropped his gloves and brawled with the closest opponent to him. Five misconducts, five roughings, and a goalie interference later, the players leave the ice, the Ducks surrendering to San Jose with a final score of 3-2.

Jonas Hiller had another consistent game tonight, blocking 23 shots out of 26 attempts, allowing only one even strength goal. The fisticuffs of the endgame not included, the Ducks earned 7 penalties, successfully defending five and scoring a shorthanded goal on one.

With this loss, the Ducks are still not shut out of the playoffs, although they are only in 7th place, two points ahead of Nashville, and two points behind Columbus. The Ducks play Dallas on Friday, where a win could mean a tie for sixth in the division, and a clinched playoff spot.

At the top of the Western Conference resides the San Jose Sharks, who now have 115 points over the Detroit Redwings who have 109, which is a three game lead. The Calgary Flames are another six points behind Detroit, rounding out the top three in the Western Conference. In the East, the Boston Bruins continue to lead, with 112 points, followed by the Washington Capitals with 104 points, giving them a four game lead. In third place, the New Jersey Devils trail the Capitals by only one game with 102 points.

The Ducks only have two more games left in the regular season. If they're going to make a run for the playoffs, I might as well blog about it.

Lets Go Ducks!

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