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HELENE ELLIOTT

Listless play has Ducks on the verge of elimination

They are outclassed by Detroit in 4-1 defeat that gives Red Wings a 3-2 series lead.

May 11, 2009|HELENE ELLIOTT

FROM DETROIT — Let's allow defenseman James Wisniewski to sum up the Ducks' lame performance in a 4-1 loss to the Red Wings, a game that meant so much but inspired so little emotion from a team that once made its living on its heart and grit.

"We were just standing still, not moving our feet, not moving the puck; we had no energy, we weren't finishing any checks, turning the puck over," Wisniewski said.

That tells the tale. That, and a few statistics:

In permitting Detroit to take a 3-2 lead in their second-round playoff series (moving the Ducks one loss away from the end of their season), the Ducks took no shots between 3:01 and 17:28 of the third period. They took only five shots in the final period and were outshot, 38-17, overall.

The octopus tossed on the ice at Joe Louis Arena with just over two minutes to play left more of an impression than the Ducks did. Certainly, both stank.

The Ducks return home for Game 6 on Tuesday with their pride as bruised as their bodies, their hopes of returning to Detroit for a seventh game seeming minuscule in the face of their meek acceptance of failure Sunday.

"We had no business out there. They were better in every area and there's no excuse," Teemu Selanne said.

"This is tough to swallow. When you play on a high level and lose, you can live with that. We didn't deserve anything. No excuses."

Then how about some reasons?

Sorry, none come to mind.

The Red Wings were good. Fast, strong, skillful. Nothing new there.

They scored the first two goals in a 39-second span in the second period, both on odd-man rushes. On the first, Johan Franzen cut to the middle for a long shot that beat Jonas Hiller at 3:23, and on the second, Jiri Hudler batted down a shot by Henrik Zetterberg that Hiller had stopped but couldn't keep from popping up in the air.

Hiller played well, far better than the Game 4 effort in which he was pulled in favor of Jean-Sebastien Giguere, but he was virtually abandoned time after time Sunday.

"For sure we didn't play our best game, but we still had our chances," Hiller said. "We know if we play our game we definitely have a chance to win, but everybody's got to step up right now."

They did create some pressure in the second period. The Red Wings had a huge territorial advantage, but the Ducks cut their lead to 2-1 after Erik Christensen threw a pass into the high slot and Ryan Whitney wristed it home at 15:37.

Christensen had the tying goal on his stick just over a minute later, one-on-one with Chris Osgood from about 15 feet out, but he shot into the goaltender's glove.

"We had a chance to go 2-2, then you never know when you're on the road," Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said. "That's all we're trying to do -- get another chance -- and I don't think we did it."

The Ducks had an early power play in the third, when Corey Perry sold a borderline hooking call that was made on Dan Cleary at 3:50, but they took no shots and gave up a short-handed foray by Marian Hossa during that advantage.

"We didn't do very much with it," Carlyle said of that power play.

"I think that took any momentum we were building away from us."

From there on the Red Wings simply did what they wanted and the Ducks rarely put up much resistance. Detroit's persistence paid off at 16:52 when Darren Helm finished off a flurry in front of Hiller for a 3-1 lead. Zetterberg scored into an empty net with 51.1 seconds remaining to secure it.

"We weren't emotionally involved tonight. Not on a consistent basis," Carlyle said.

Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer credited the Red Wings for their proficiency but knew the Ducks had made them look even better by contrast.

"We didn't have pretty much everything you need to compete," he said, quietly simmering.

"We didn't play well positionally. We didn't play our game plan as well as we need to, and that's the result.

"They deserved to win. We didn't."

What now?

"No secret. It's pretty simple really," Niedermayer said, then caught himself.

"Simple to talk about," he added. "What matters is you need to go out and do it on the ice -- and that will be our focus, preparing to play a heck of a lot better."

Anything less than their best and they'll be on the wrong end of the traditional handshake line in what could be the Ducks finale for Niedermayer, who's in the last year of his contract.

Anything less than their best and they'll be cheating their fans and themselves.

"We have to look in the mirror, every individual," Selanne said. "We will be better, I promise."

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helene.elliott@latimes.com

--

NHL playoffs

DETROIT AT DUCKS

GAME 6 -- TUESDAY

Red Wings lead series, 3-2;

7 p.m., Prime Ticket

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