Hur­ri­canes end Ducks’ streak

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - HE­LENE EL­LIOTT he­lene.el­[email protected]­times.com Twit­ter: @he­le­nenothe­len

Ana­heim gives up too many shots and can’t score with two-man edge in 4-1 de­feat.

The Ducks are more than 30 games into the sea­son and still haven’t de­vel­oped an iden­tity, at least in the mind of coach Randy Car­lyle. He has a vi­sion of what he wants their trade­mark style to be. “Blue-col­lar hockey. Good de­fen­sively. Ef­fec­tive on our break­outs. Win the spe­cial teams bat­tle. Cre­ate a strong forecheck. Don’t play trade-chance hockey. Very sim­ple,” he said.

That’s eas­ier said than done. And they didn’t come close to get­ting it done Fri­day.

As has hap­pened too of­ten this sea­son, the Ducks sub­jected goal­tender John Gibson to too many shots (35) and were too soft de­fen­sively. Un­able to score at even strength or on five power plays — in­clud­ing a two-man ad­van­tage for a minute and 16 sec­onds in the third pe­riod — the Ducks meekly let the Carolina Hur­ri­canes leave Honda Cen­ter with a 4-1 vic­tory.

For the Ducks, who had won their pre­vi­ous five games and seven of their pre­vi­ous eight, the loss was proof they haven’t es­tab­lished that blue-col­lar iden­tity, and that they re­main a team in need of a tweak to boost their of­fense. They’re one of the NHL’s low­est-scor­ing teams, a fault they’ve masked by re­ly­ing heav­ily on Gibson and on backup Ryan Miller. The goalies have been out­stand­ing but can’t bear the bur­den alone.

“You’re not go­ing to win ev­ery game, but there’s dif­fer­ent ways to lose, that’s for sure,” winger Jakob Sil­fver­berg said, “and tonight was not the ef­fort that we want.”

They’re ca­pa­ble of be­com­ing the hard-work­ing team Car­lyle en­vi­sions. They’ve been that team at times. But un­til they do that on a consistent ba­sis, un­til they help their goal­tenders by min­i­miz­ing op­po­nents’ shots and get the puck out of their own zone with quick and crisp pass­ing, they will be some­where in the mid­dle of the pack, a likely play­off team but not a team likely to go far.

They felt them­selves fad­ing Fri­day night, even though Sil­fver­berg’s short­handed goal gave them a 1-0 lead at 11:47 of the first pe­riod. “I don’t think that first 20 was that good. I think we felt we had an­other gear we had to put in if we wanted to come out with two points,” he said. “But our last 40 was def­i­nitely not the way we want to play. We were play­ing slow and sloppy with the puck and not con­nect­ing on passes, too much kind of throw­ing the puck into ar­eas and hop­ing it’s go­ing to hit one of our guys.”

Sil­fver­berg gave the Ducks the lead when he broke in alone for a shot that hit the post next to Petr Mrazek and car­omed back out to­ward the blue line. De­fense­man Jake Dotchin kept the puck in the zone and blasted a shot that de­flected off Sil­fver­berg on the way to the net, re­sult­ing in Sil­fver­berg’s sev­enth goal this sea­son and the 100th of his NHL ca­reer.

Carolina pulled even at 1:53 of the sec­ond pe­riod on a play that un­der­went two re­views af­ter the on-ice of­fi­cials ruled no goal had been scored when the puck and Carolina for­ward Clark Bishop slid into the net. The first re­view showed the puck had crossed the goal line be­fore the net was dis­lodged, a good goal. The Ducks chal­lenged for goal­tender in­ter­fer­ence but were de­nied. Ac­cord­ing to an email from the NHL, “Af­ter re­view­ing all avail­able re­plays and con­sult­ing with the Ref­eree, the Sit­u­a­tion Room de­ter­mined that the ac­tions of Ana­heim’s Ham­pus Lind­holm caused Bishop to con­tact Gibson be­fore the puck crossed the goal line.” The goal was Bishop’s first in the NHL.

The teams stayed on even foot­ing un­til early in the third pe­riod, when the Hur­ri­canes scored twice in 61 sec­onds. On the first of those goals, de­fense­man Brett Pesce fin­ished off a give-and-go with Teuvo Ter­a­vainen by shoot­ing a rolling puck from the right cir­cle past Gibson at 1:56. Justin Wil­liams, no longer the clutch scorer he was while play­ing for the Kings’ two Stan­ley Cup cham­pi­onship teams, ex­tended Carolina’s lead to 3-1 at 2:57, when he whacked home a puck that was loose in the crease. Se­bas­tian Aho scored into an empty net at 18:46 to fin­ish the scor­ing.

The Ducks’ sea­son has been one of ex­tremes. They started an im­pres­sive 5-1-1 but then went seven games with­out a win. De­spite los­ing sev­eral key play­ers, they were 7-1-2 in the 10 games they played be­fore Fri­day night’s loss, a surge that lifted them into first place in the Pa­cific Divi­sion for a few hours last Sun­day and hinted they were poised to make a run. That came to a halt on Fri­day. Whether their loss will be a short pause or the begin­ning of an­other slump is up to them and the iden­tity they want to adopt.

Kyusung Gong As­so­ci­ated Press

THE DUCKS’ Carter Rowney (24) can’t quite reach the puck as Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton con­trols it.

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