Ducks suf­fer a slip on home ice

Avalanche clings to play­off hopes with win and four games left in the sea­son.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Lance Pug­mire lance.pug­mire@la­

They give up de­ci­sive goal mid­way through third pe­riod and fall, 4-2, to Avalanche.

There’s com­fort in the Ducks’ po­si­tion as Pa­cific Di­vi­sion cham­pi­ons. They’re as­sured of home-ice ad­van­tage for at least two rounds of the play­offs and await a wild-card en­trant in the first round.

In Fri­day’s 4-2 home loss to the Colorado Avalanche, there was some let­ting off of the gas at play.

“Tonight was not good enough,” Ducks de­fense­man Fran­cois Beau­chemin said af­ter his team squan­dered a 2-1 lead by al­low­ing three sec­ond­pe­riod power plays that re­sulted in one goal.

In the third, Colorado cen­ter Matt Duch­ene took ad­van­tage of Ducks for­ward Corey Perry los­ing his grip on a puck, sprint­ing to de­liver the de­ci­sive goal.

The Avalanche (36-30-12) also got an empty net goal and cling barely to play­off life as they head to face the Kings at Sta­ples Cen­ter on Satur­day.

The Ducks (50-23-7) have a four-point lead over the Nashville Preda­tors and St. Louis Blues in the race for the West­ern Con­fer­ence No. 1 seed, but those teams have four games re­main­ing, while Ana­heim has just two.

Ana­heim’s bid for the Pres­i­dents’ Tro­phy, awarded to the NHL team with the most points, is even more per­ilous, with the New York Rangers trail­ing by only two points with five games left.

“We love our home record (26-11-3), so we’d love to be able to win the West, but those are two points we didn’t get,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “You want to win them all, you want to go into the play­offs feel­ing good about your­self.”

Boudreau said he didn’t in­tend to set a tone that Fri­day’s game wasn’t ur­gent by rest­ing Ryan Get­zlaf.

“There’s rea­sons that hap­pened — he’s got a lot of bumps and bruises,” Boudreau said. “It’s not like he’s healthy as a horse and de­cided, ‘Let’s just sit out.’ If Ryan Get­zlaf was healthy, he’d have played. We thought with the time off com­ing up, this would be the best time . . . so he’d be healthy [for the post­sea­son].

“I don’t think the guys think, ‘Well, if Get­zlaf ’s not play­ing, ev­ery­thing’s light,’ . . . we wanted to win the game.”

That cause, and more, were in good shape through the first pe­riod.

Ducks for­ward Jiri Sekac an­swered a game-open­ing goal by Colorado’s John Mitchell in less than a minute.

Sekac picked off a puck in the Colorado zone and out­raced Avalanche cen­ter Mar­cAn­dre Cliche to the net, forc­ing goalie Reto Berra to com­mit right. Sekac then flipped the puck over his stick and scored to the goalie’s left.

Sekac also added the sec­ond as­sist on cen­ter Rickard Rakell’s go-ahead goal with 2:02 re­main­ing in the sec­ond.

“Def­i­nitely feels good, the more time you get with the same line,” Sekac said. “Your con­fi­dence goes high.”

Corey Perry took the puck from Sekac and was po­si­tioned be­hind the net, dish­ing to Rakell for a goal again sent to Berra’s left.

Rakell, usu­ally the third­line cen­ter, has three goals with two as­sists, and he’s plus-five, since March 20.

But the Ducks, bedev­iled all sea­son by sec­ond-pe­riod blahs, had to fend off two penalty kills be­fore fi­nally get­ting burned by a third.

Af­ter de­fense­man James Wis­niewski man­han­dled Duch­ene for a hold­ing penalty with 4:10 left in the sec­ond, Avalanche cen­ter Gabriel Lan­deskog scored his 23rd goal 62 sec­onds later.

Berra made 15 saves in the third, and avoided a point­blank try by Ana­heim’s Ste­fan Noe­sen in his NHL de­but.

“With­out ‘Getzy,’ it’s a huge dif­fer­ence,” Sekac said. “When there’s not an­other top goal scorer out there, [the op­po­nent] feels bet­ter. Maybe he could’ve changed some­thing. Maybe he couldn’t. Tough loss, we have to keep go­ing and get ready for the play­offs.”

Christine Cot­ter As­so­ci­ated Press

EMER­SON ETEM and Colorado’s Brad Stu­art tan­gle along the boards in the Ducks’ 4-2 loss. Ana­heim holds on to the lead in the Pa­cific Di­vi­sion.

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