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Ducks play as if in a fog and lose to Coyotes, 2-0

December 24, 2006|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

GLENDALE, ARIZ. — The Ducks awoke Saturday morning in a fog-shrouded Phoenix -- yes, Phoenix -- and they spent much of the evening playing as if they were trapped in it.

Out of sync all night and out of luck when they needed it, the Ducks were done in by late third-period goals from Shane Doan and Fredrik Sjostrom just 13 seconds apart in a 2-0 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes in front an announced crowd of 14,843 at Jobing.com Arena.

It was a day of rare sights for the NHL's leading team. The fog that enveloped downtown eventually dissipated, but so did their dominance of the Coyotes, who beat them for just the second time in the last 12 meetings.

In dropping only their third game in the last 15, the Ducks (27-5-6) seemed a step behind all night. They still had chances to take control but missed on every one of them and were shut out for just the second time.

"We were way off," forward Teemu Selanne said. "I think we were mentally and physically not there. I don't know. We can't use any excuse because we were not there. They deserved it more than we did."

Mikael Tellqvist, who beat the Ducks last season when he was with Toronto, out-dueled Jean-Sebastien Giguere in goal. Tellqvist stopped all 29 shots he faced in notching his third career shutout, but he also received some good fortune.

In the opening moments of the third period, Ryan Getzlaf sent a back-hand pass through the air to a crashing Corey Perry and the right wing's deflection try ringed off the crossbar.

Later, Selanne was set up by Chris Kunitz and had an open net but shanked his one-timer off the right post.

"Nine out of 10 and I guess that was the 10th," Selanne said.

Giguere kept the Ducks in position for the win with another sharp effort. He had several big stops among his 30 saves.

The persistent Coyotes finally broke through at 14:58 of the third when Doan banged in a rebound after Mike Comrie picked off an errant pass at the Ducks' blue line and put a shot on net.

"The ice was bad but that's not an excuse," Giguere said. "Instead of making the simple play, it seems like every time we tried the hard play. Every time we did that, we turned the puck over because [it] kept bouncing on us."

Said Selanne: "We gave them a Christmas present."

A frustrated Giguere threw up his hands a short time later as Keith Ballard's shot from the point was deflected past him by Sjostrom in front.

Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said his team was to blame for both goals.

"We turned the puck over far too many times," Carlyle said. "We didn't seem to be as committed to our structure as we have been historically. We're responsible for our actions."

The law of averages finally caught up with the Ducks. They had beaten Phoenix in all three previous meetings this season and had won 10 of the 11 matchups by a combined score of 48-23 over the last two years.

What they got Saturday was an inspired effort by the Coyotes, who had lost the previous two games on their homestand and were without injured defenseman Ed Jovanovski.

"You've got a big bull's-eye on your back and everybody wants to compare themselves to you and play their best game," Getzlaf said. "That's something we've got to be prepared for every night."

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eric.stephens@latimes.com

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