‘Ducks Drill Down’ is a regular, ~weekly column that recaps the latest goings-on with the Anaheim Ducks.
After a solid east-cost road trip in which they won three of four contests, the Anaheim Ducks returned home to start a stretch where nine of their next 11 games would be played in the comfort of the Honda Center.
Unfortunately, the nice ending to the month of October did not carry over into November, and the comfort of playing at home has not been enough to carry Anaheim to victory. The Ducks have lost their first three games of the month, picking up just one point over that span. Their first two losses—to the Toronto Maple Leafs and rival Nashville Predators—came on home ice and in regulation play.
Ducks Stumble at Home
This slew of home games looked to be a good opportunity for the Ducks to get some points in the bank while injured players took time to recover. However, this segment of the season has not gotten off to a good start.
Loss to Maple Leafs
The Ducks returned home to face the talented Maple Leafs on Nov. 1. After the clubs traded goals in the opening period—with Ondrej Kase once again lighting the lamp for Anaheim—the Ducks took it to the Leafs in the second period, outshooting them by a decisive 17-6 margin. Despite that, the Ducks could not find the back of the net, and their inability to do so against old friend Frederik Andersen proved to be a pivotal turning point in the game.
The Leafs took a 2-1 lead just over a minute into the third period. It was veteran Patrick Marleau—intimately familiar with contests against the Ducks from all his years in San Jose—who scored the go-ahead goal. The Ducks were then unable to muster many quality chances in the third period, as they managed just five shots on goal against a Leafs team that tightened up after the second period. The Ducks did appear to tie the game late, but Jakob Silfverberg’s apparent marker was waved off as he was deemed to have kicked it in.
Mere seconds later, Toronto’s Leo Komarov ultimately sealed the deal with an empty-netter, and the Leafs skated off with a 3-1 victory. Silfverberg focused on the Ducks’ strong play in the second frame and stressed the need to play that way more consistently.
“That was our strong point of the game,” Silfverberg said of the second period. “That’s when we moved the puck and moved our feet and we gave them some trouble, so we’ve got to get back and play the way we did in the second.”
Loss to Predators
That strong play was unfortunately not immediately applied in Anaheim’s next contest on Friday against the Nashville Predators, the team that eliminated them in the Western Conference Final last season. The Ducks fell behind 2-0 in the first period before the Preds extended the lead to 3-0 early in the second. Again, though, Anaheim did start to show life in the second period, closing the deficit to 4-2 by the end of the frame.
Silfverberg, who could finally be regaining his scoring touch after a slow start to the season, then lit the lamp less than eight minutes into the third period to give Anaheim a reasonable shot at completing a comeback, as they were then within one goal. They would nevertheless ultimately fall short, thanks in large part to Pekka Rinne’s 35 saves for Nashville. P.K. Subban added an empty-net goal to give the Predators a 5-3 victory.
Despite the strong push in the latter half of the game, Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle expressed his displeasure with his club being out of sync overall.
“I didn’t think we handled the puck and controlled the puck at all. We were making passes at our teammates’ feet,” Carlyle said. “It starts with execution. If you can’t make a tape-to-tape pass and share the puck with your teammates, you’re going to have a difficult time getting through the neutral ice.”
Individual Milestones Reached in San Jose
The Ducks then traveled upstate to San Jose for a rare road game over these next few weeks. Coming off the loss to Nashville the night before, Anaheim looked understandably tired for much of the game, and the Sharks controlled most of the play. But Ryan Miller, starting for the second time this season, made 44 saves to salvage a point for the Ducks, as they lost 2-1 in a shootout.
The game, however, was significant in that it featured the intersection of several individual milestones. It was the 900th career game for longtime Ducks star Corey Perry, who celebrated the occasion with a breakaway goal in the first period—his first tally since scoring two on opening night. Derek Grant made a great stretch pass that led to the goal, and coincidentally, the game was the 100th of the journeyman’s NHL career.
The milestones did not end there. Perhaps most impressive was Andrew Cogliano playing in his 800th consecutive game. The 30-year-old iron man has, incredibly, never missed a game since his NHL career began with the Edmonton Oilers in 2007.
What makes the streak all the more impressive is that Cogliano plays such a hard game, killing penalties and playing a key defensive role while also providing speed and secondary scoring. Now his role is even more pronounced, as that secondary scoring is turning into primary scoring for the injury-ravaged Ducks. Cogliano is tied with Rickard Rakell for the team lead in points, with nine (three goals and six assists).
With Ryan Getzlaf, Cam Fowler, Ryan Kesler, and Patrick Eaves still on injured reserve, the Ducks will look to end their three-game losing streak on Tuesday, Nov. 7, when they take on the Kings at home in the first freeway rivalry game of the year. It will be no easy task, as the revitalized Kings sit atop the Pacific Division standings with a record of 10-2-2.
The surprising Vancouver Canucks will then come down to Anaheim for a game on Nov. 9 before the Ducks host the dangerous Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday, Nov. 12, closing out the season series with their Eastern Conference foe.