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Ducks go by the boards in 4-2 loss to Detroit

Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart banks his second goal into an empty Ducks net late in the game. The Ducks have won just once in their last 11 games, and again struggle with starting slow.

November 20, 2011|By Lisa Dillman

It was, perhaps, the most telling indignity of this prolonged Ducks dive, a slump rapidly closing in on the one-month mark.

The Ducks, pressing for the tying goal against Detroit, had a six-on-four advantage late in Sunday's game on the power play and with goalie Jonas Hiller pulled. Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart, deep in his own zone, channeled his inner pool player and managed to bank the puck off the right boards and into the empty net.

Just call him side-pocket Stuart.

Stuart's two goals led the Red Wings to a 4-2 victory against the Ducks at Honda Center. The Ducks, who got second-period goals from Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne, have won once in their last 11 games.

"Banking that one in. It's that old Larry Bird-Michael Jordan bounce, right?" said Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard.

Aside from the unusual Stuart goal, there has been a numbing familiarity to recent Ducks games. Losing, of course, and coming close after slow starts.

"It's very, very frustrating," Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said. "It's almost a cruel side of sports."

That's the big picture. To get to that point, they have been falling behind early and often and have given up shorthanded, empty-net goals in their last two games. On top of that, there were strange power outages in the back-to-back home games.

The first-period delay Sunday lasted 27 minutes because a bank of lights went out at Detroit's end.

Unlike Thursday's 17-minute delay, in which some of the lights did not come back on right away after the second intermission, this one was not a building-related issue. Officials said the outage occurred because of an "external event due to weather conditions."

This time, the teams left the ice and went back to their dressing rooms.

"That was a little side thing you have to get through," said the Ducks' Andrew Cogliano. "They have to deal with it too. It's difficult. It is odd. You don't really know why it's going on. But like I said, there's nothing you really can do."

The Ducks already were trailing, 1-0, falling behind in the opening 1:26, before the outage occurred with 13:47 remaining in the opening period. They gave up a goal just 14 seconds into the second period when Pavel Datsyuk picked off a cross-ice pass from Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler and found Johan Franzen, who made scoring look easy.

Carlyle called the pass "ill-advised" but said there were other missed assignments on the play.

Fowler took full responsibility, saying: "I forced it. It was a terrible play and not something I usually try and make. I've got to be more patient than that…. It's up to me to make plays and get the puck into the hands of our skilled forwards up front. [The Red Wings] showed me some different looks. It's up to me to adjust at that point, and I didn't do it well enough here tonight."

He was hardly the only one. The Ducks didn't appear overly motivated or engaged until Stuart's first goal of the game made it 3-0 at 7:10 of the second period.

"That's been a trait where we've had to play catch-up in all these games," Carlyle said. "And the first thing I can say is that we're not establishing any forecheck or any physicality early in the hockey game. It takes too long for us to do that."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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