Ducks fall after Jets’ late rally – Pasadena Star News

Andrew Knoll

ANAHEIM –– The Ducks snatched defeat from the jaws of victory Sunday, transforming a 2-0 third-period lead into a 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at Honda Center, where the Ducks dropped their 11th game in 12 outings.

Alex Killorn and Adam Henrique each lit the lamp. John Gibson stopped 27 of 30 shots.

Nino Niederreiter and Morgan Barron each tallied for Winnipeg before former Kings forward Gabe Vilardi concluded the rally with a late deflection goal and Mark Scheifele added an empty-netter. Josh Morrissey contributed two assists. Connor Hellebuyck earned his 13th win of the season to move into a tie for second place in the NHL and made 25 saves.

“I watched the graphic, if we don’t score more than two goals, we’re doomed. We had two goals, and we couldn’t get a third one,” said Coach Greg Cronin after his team fell to 0-14-0 in games in which it has scored two or fewer goals.

Aid may be en route as Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale returned to practice Saturday, and when asked if they would accompany the team on its upcoming four-game journey, Cronin responded, “I hope so.”

Vilardi’s one-handed redirection with 1:42 remaining set the scene for Scheifele’s empty-net marker in the dying gasps of the match. Vilardi reached across the body of Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen, who failed to tie up his stick after his partner Radko Gudas was unable to obtain a key clearance a moment earlier.

“We’re standing right next to the guy. Well, the guy’s belly button is not going to score the goal, his stick is,” Cronin said. “These are fundamental defensive responsibilities.”

The Ducks came out of the second intermission with a one-goal lead and they hadn’t held a 2-0 advantage since Oct. 28 in Philadelphia. They earned that edge 75 seconds into the third period, but were back into a one-goal contest 43 seconds later and found themselves in a fresh game 5:55 into the frame.

“We haven’t had the lead a ton in the past 10 or 15 games. So, to get the lead, especially to get an early goal in the third, feeling good about yourselves, to give it up is pretty frustrating,” Killorn said.

First, Henrique’s short-side snipe from above the left circle off the rush gave the Ducks breathing room with their first multi-goal lead since a 4-1 win over San Jose on Nov. 12.

That edge proved fleeting when Niederreiter rerouted Vladislav Namestnikov’s centering pass off Vaakanainen’s skate and into the net.

The Jets’ equalizer also came off something of a broken play, when Morrissey’s shot attempt was blocked by Ilya Lyubushkin, who was unable to locate and clear the puck before Barron dove in and stabbed it past Gibson.

Killorn said it was too simplistic and convenient to blame puck luck, while Cronin’s assessment was more specific and didactic.

“The first one, we’re loose on coverage,” Cronin said. “The second one, we block it and then we lose coverage around the blocked puck.”

After a hapless first power play, the Ducks finally put a goal on the board during their second opportunity.

Troy Terry and Max Jones, who returned after from an upper-body that kept him out for most of the Ducks’ brief road trip, played catch in the left circle before Terry jammed a puck into the slot for Killorn. He withstood contact from two defenders as he took three swipes to knock in his third goal as a Duck. The Ducks would take a penalty 1:16 later, which they killed off to extend their successful PK time to 11 minutes (they ended up five-for-five in 13 minutes of man-disadvantage action), further dominating the special-teams battle.

“We pressed it into a little three-on-two in the corner, where Killer was going to be at the net and I would fall off into the slot there and try to find the open man,” Jones said. “Once we saw the DMan was sliding on me, we’d try to get it back to Troy for them to get that split second where Killer was alone in front of the net.”

The opening frame passed by scoreless despite the best efforts of the visitors as Winnipeg produced half a dozen high-danger chances to the Ducks’ one per Natural Stat Trick. But the second period ratcheted up the intensity and reduced the number of available players for both teams in short order.

Just 27 seconds into the stanza, Ryan Strome kneed Winnipeg’s leading scorer Kyle Connor during a Jets attack, which injured Connor and infuriated Scheifele. Scheifele engaged Strome in a fight, which Strome won before he was assessed an additional major penalty for kneeing and a game misconduct, ending his evening. Connor also left the game and did not return, and Scheifele was in the penalty box for Winnipeg’s entire five-minute power play, which the Ducks killed successfully.

Cronin, Jones and Killorn all said that the extended penalty kill was a massive momentum-shifter. Cronin said he felt confident that the NHL would not mete out any further punishment for Strome.

“Stromey tries to hit him with his shoulder, and they just click knees,” Cronin said. “If you watch his shoulder, he turns his shoulder into Connor’s and they just hit knees. I feel bad for (Connor), but there’s no way Stromey tried to hurt him.”

Andrew Knoll Anaheim Ducks,NHL,Sports

2023-12-11 04:47:19 , Pasadena Star News

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