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Ducks struggle with new faces

They lose to Stars, 3-2.

March 07, 2009|Billy Witz

The starting lineup had two new faces, the checking line had two new names and Bobby Ryan changed his number. But no matter what they changed, the Ducks couldn't change the way they've played at home this season, their 3-2 loss Friday to Dallas following a familiar script.

Silly penalties, playing from behind all night and being on the wrong end of superb goaltending allowed the Ducks to further cement the Western Conference's worst home record.

"It wasn't a question of lack of effort, it was a question of lack of execution," Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said, bemoaning the four offensive-zone penalties his team took. "We made some mistakes and we paid for it. But I cannot complain [about] the work ethic."

The loss was costly for the Ducks, who with a win would have joined sixth-place Nashville and seventh-place Columbus with 70 points. Instead, they sit in 10th place in the congested Western Conference. By the time they take the ice Sunday evening against Minnesota, the Ducks could find themselves in 12th.

The trading-deadline deals that sent away veterans Samuel Pahlsson, Travis Moen, Kent Huskins and Steve Montador might have shaken up the locker room, but for one night it didn't stir the Ducks.

Two of the three players the Ducks acquired Wednesday at the trading deadline were in the starting lineup, Erik Christensen moving from his natural center position to left wing alongside Ryan Getzlaf and right wing Corey Perry, and James Wisniewski teaming with captain Scott Niedermayer in defense.

It didn't take long for Christensen to show he fit in.

He was whistled for hooking 29 seconds into the game, tapping into the senseless penalty gene that seems to be part of the Ducks' DNA.

Dallas took advantage when Mike Ribeiro passed the puck from the top of the left faceoff circle to Steve Ott on the edge of the crease. Ott carried the puck toward the opposite post, drew the defense with him, then flipped a backhanded pass to Ribeiro, who had rushed toward the net. Ribeiro flipped the puck past lunging goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere for a 1-0 lead.

"I was nervous for sure," Christensen said. "You try to make a good first impression and you take a penalty and they score. Not the best feeling."

The Stars used some more elegant stick work and skating to take a 2-0 lead with 5:21 left in the second period. After Ribeiro received the puck at the right face-off circle, he cut back to the middle. He dropped the puck behind him for Ott, who sent a cross-ice pass to Loui Eriksson, who flipped his team-leading 30th goal past Giguere.

The Ducks' lack of offense wasn't from a lack of trying. They put 38 shots on Marty Turco, who made several fine saves.

The Ducks finally broke through with 12:29 left with some pretty play of their own. Teemu Selanne raced down the right flank and fired a pass across the ice to Corey Perry, who redirected it back to Wisniewski, who blasted a slap shot past Turco.

The momentum didn't last long. A little more than a minute later, Eriksson picked up a loose puck, raced past Scott Niedermayer and ripped a wrist shot past the glove of Giguere.

A shot Giguere should have saved?

"I'll let you make that determination," Carlyle said.

Ryan, who switched from No. 54 to 9 -- the first player the Ducks have allowed to wear the jersey since Paul Kariya -- brought them within 3-2 with a Kariya-like goal with 2:32 left. He burst down the left wing, turned defenseman Stephane Robidas around and beat Turco.


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