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Ducks blow late two-goal lead and lose, 4-3, to Canadiens

Montreal scores twice in the final two minutes to tie the score, then wins in a shootout.

March 07, 2010|By Robyn Norwood

The Ducks lost in a shootout Sunday, but they shot themselves in the foot first.

Their 4-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at the Honda Center was marked by gaffes that fell somewhere between epic and pathetic.

The Ducks led 3-0 in the first period and 3-1 with two minutes left in the game before Montreal scored twice in the final 1:50, including the tying goal with 10.7 seconds left.

The final indignity came in the shootout, when goaltender Jonas Hiller appeared to have made the game-winning save against Brian Gionta only to lift his left leg and allow the puck to trickle into the net.

One shooter later, Tomas Plekanec made good on Montreal's second chance by scoring the shootout winner to hand the Ducks their third loss since the Olympic break.

"They're down right now. I can't say anything to pick them up," said Coach Randy Carlyle, whose team is trying to make a final push for the playoffs but fell behind by another point, six behind eighth-place Detroit.

"The sun will come up tomorrow, hopefully — that's the way you have to look at it," Carlyle said.

"Right now, it's better to just flush it."

Hiller made 40 saves, and it seemed as if he had stopped Gionta's wrist shot with the Ducks leading the shootout, 1-0, on a goal by Ryan Getzlaf — who had his own crazy night, mixing big offensive plays with costly turnovers.

"I couldn't find the puck," Hiller said of Gionta's shootout attempt. "I thought it was still slipping through and started to put my skate back. As I saw in the video, it was in my pad. I put the puck in myself."

The play was reviewed and stood despite Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer's complaints to referee Brad Watson. Niedermayer and Hiller expressed uncertainty about the rule and thought the play should have been ruled dead, but Carlyle didn't object to the call after reviewing it.

"If Jonas stays down, he has the puck. When he stood up, the puck fell out of his equipment. In retrospect, he would like to stay until the referee waved no goal and then get up."

For all the focus on the play by Hiller, it never should have come to that.

The Ducks had a 3-1 lead with two minutes left in regulation when Getzlaf chased a puck into the corner near the Ducks' net but didn't control it safely, and Gionta scored from the slot with 1:50 remaining.

The Ducks still had a chance to put the game away in the final minute after Montreal pulled goalie Jaroslav Halak for an extra attacker, but Bobby Ryan just missed the empty net, with the puck glancing wide.

With 10.7 seconds left, Benoit Pouliot got the puck to Andrei Markov in front of the net, and Markov cashed in the tying goal.

The Ducks had controlled much of the game but skated off with only one point on a day when two of the teams they are chasing, Detroit and Calgary, won.

"It's a tough one," said Getzlaf, who had a turnover on a cross-ice pass that led to Montreal's first goal, by Plekanec, in the second period. "Our line was on the ice for a couple of those goals, and that's unacceptable for us."

Before that, it was all Ducks, as goals by Corey Perry, newly acquired defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky and Niedermayer chased starting goalie Carey Price.

"After a big win or loss, you just have to be able to regroup, forget the past and get ready for the next one," said the Ducks' Saku Koivu, who played for the first time against the team he formerly captained.

"These next two weeks are going to be critical for us."

robynnorwood@verizon.net

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