Overtime and the Ducks are becoming synonymous. How often do you see one without the other these days?
Really, people are going to start talking. It's happening everywhere -- at home and on the road.
The Ducks on Friday night played their third straight overtime game and ninth of the season, and stumbled to their fifth overtime loss. Nashville defeated the Ducks, 4-3, on forward Scott Hartnell's sixth goal of the season before an announced crowd of 14,166 at the Arrowhead Pond.
Hartnell, who has 11 points in his last 12 games, scored at 1 minute 31 seconds into overtime, taking a pass from Rem Murray, who was behind the net. Murray hit Hartnell in front and he faded to his left, putting the puck up high over the sprawling Duck goalie, Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
The Ducks seemed stunned at the rapid-fire meltdown. They had been less than four minutes away from a routine win in regulation. But nothing is routine for them these days.
Duck captain Steve Rucchin was disgusted.
"Overtime, third periods, first and second periods, there's no desperation," Rucchin said, paused, then continued: "I don't want to say anything I'll regret. We're just not playing. I hate to say it. But it's starting to get embarrassing now. Guys need to start caring a little more.
"It's killing [Giguere]. He's keeping us in the games. But it's going against his win-loss record. I know we're getting points, but it's inexcusable."
Said Coach Mike Babcock, who will miss practice today to attend the funeral of Ken Brett in Spokane, Wash.: "I've got to talk to them. It's a mental block. We stood still and watched them. I thought we might have skated the best we have in the first and second periods. But they found a way to hang around."
It broke down for the Ducks when the Predators' Greg Johnson, stationed at the left post, tied the score with a second-chance goal at 16:02 of the third period. That's the way it was going for the Ducks. Nashville was capable of finding time to capitalize on second chances.
It was a strange day all the way around. Earlier, a reality television series came to the Pond and shot scenes featuring Babcock and the injured Mike Leclerc. Apparently that was not enough reality for one day.
Despite the late collapse, the Ducks (7-7-2-5) are in first place in the Pacific Division, backing in with a point from the overtime loss. They got there via two power-play goals, one from Jason Krog in the first period and one from Rucchin in the second, and a multi-point performance from the recently exiled Stanislav Chistov, who had two assists. Samuel Pahlsson had the other Duck goal, at 5:21 of the second.
But there was not a single mention in the scoring summary of their highest-paid player, Sergei Fedorov.
So, who got them there?
The usual suspect, of course. As a rule, the Ducks' success often goes in lock step with their captain. Rucchin scored their third goal late in the second period on a rebound, and it nearly held up. His goal, with 2:40 remaining in the period and with 14 seconds left on a power play, was his ninth of the season and 13th point. Rucchin has scored six goals in his last seven games.
It capped a wild second period that featured four goals, two from the Ducks and two from the Predators.
Normally, first place would be a time for celebration, a way to have finally erased the negativity of the first few weeks of the season. First place was there for the taking, as the Kings had lost earlier in the evening at Dallas.
The Ducks now have 21 points to the Kings' 20, and they have recorded at least one point in eight consecutive games.
But they were undone by overtime again. Naturally.