Ducks aim­ing for a quick start

Los Angeles Times - - NHL - By Mike Cop­pinger sports@la­

The Ducks, no mat­ter the op­po­nent, con­tinue to strug­gle out of the gate.

Sure, they scored first Wed­nes­day against the New York Is­landers, the only time they’ve done so in four games this sea­son. But fol­low­ing the first-minute goal, the Ducks were thor­oughly out­skated — and out­played — over the first third of the con­test.

The Is­landers out­shot them 21-5, a fa­mil­iar pat­tern that’s played out over the four-game home­s­tand to open the sea­son, though the Ducks ended up with the vic­tory.

Now, they have to fig­ure what ails them as the Ducks head on the road for a Fri­day con­test against the Colorado Avalanche, a young, fast group.

“We’re go­ing to have to find an­other for­mula as far as try­ing to stim­u­late our group from the start of the game,” Ducks coach Randy Car­lyle said. “We scored our goal, killed a penalty and then we go flat. We re­lied on our goal­tender to bail us out.

“Your goal­tender can only do that so many times. That has to change with our group. We played bet­ter af­ter the first pe­riod and got our­selves back into the hockey game.”

What­ever Car­lyle says in the locker room between pe­ri­ods must be con­vinc­ing, be­cause the Ducks usu­ally play bet­ter as the game rolls on.

They scored four unan­swered goals over the fi­nal 25 min­utes in the sea­son-open­ing vic­tory over the Ari­zona Coy­otes to dig out of a 4-1 hole.

The Ducks found a third­pe­riod short-handed goal in the third pe­riod against the Philadel­phia Fly­ers to force over­time and pick up one point.

Sooner or later, though, they need to force a team on their heels early.

“Right now it seems like the start of hockey games have been dif­fi­cult for us, but we’re not go­ing to cri­tique a win,” Car­lyle said. “We won the hockey game. If we had to do that ev­ery game and weather the storm and win ev­ery game, I don’t think we’d com­plain, but that’s just not the right way.”

It’s also not the re­al­is­tic way. John Gib­son has kept the Ducks in games with his stel­lar play, par­tic­u­larly in Wed­nes­day’s vic­tory with 20 of his 39 saves in the open­ing pe­riod.

The 24-year-old hasn’t had a rest yet through four games, partly be­cause he’s played well, and partly be­cause No. 2 goalie Ryan Miller re­mains on in­jured re­serve with an up­per-body in­jury.

“There’s just some work that we still have to do. It’s early in the sea­son,” said Gib­son, who has a .920 save per­cent­age and a 2.78 goal­sagainst-av­er­age. “We just want to make sure we keep get­ting bet­ter with each and ev­ery game.”


AT COLORADO When: 6 PDT. Where: Pepsi Cen­ter. On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Ra­dio: 830. Up­date: The Ducks (2-1-1) are still six play­ers away from full strength fol­low­ing the re­turns of Ryan Get­zlaf and Pa­trick Eaves. … Third­line winger On­drej Kase was placed on in­jured re­serve af­ter ab­sorb­ing an el­bow to the head from Flames de­fense­man Dougie Hamilton on Mon­day . ... The Avalanche (3-1-0) have sur­prised be­hind strong play from goal­tender Se­myon Var­lamov (.945 save per­cent­age, 1.67 GAA) af­ter the most dis­ap­point­ing sea­son of his ca­reer.

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