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Ducks' make plans to move up but go nowhere in 2-0 loss to Sabres

On what is supposed to be a 'moving day,' as in moving up in the standings, the Ducks remain in 13th place.

February 29, 2012|By Lisa Dillman

Moving Day, Part I:

Ducks General Manager Bob Murray, noting how his players responded to the firm challenge he threw down, stored the for-sale sign and let the NHL trade deadline pass, making two small minor league moves.

Since then, the Ducks have suffered two losses and scored one goal in 120 minutes of action and slipped seven points out of a playoff spot in the tightly grouped Western Conference. On Wednesday, it was the Buffalo Sabres and goalie Ryan Miller taking turns suffocating the Ducks, winning, 2-0, at Honda Center.

Miller, who faced 43 shots, recorded his fourth shutout of the season and 26th of his career. Just call him the Jonas Hiller of the East Coast, putting up eye-popping numbers in (maybe) the nick of time for the Sabres.

Hiller, by the way, made his 23rd consecutive start Wednesday, tying the franchise record held by Guy Hebert and J.S. Giguere

Moving Day, Part II:

Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau had spoken in the morning of Wednesday representing something of a moving day in the Western Conference.

Had the Ducks won they could have vaulted over 12th-place Minnesota in the standings. Yes, a short-haul moving day.

Instead, the van wasn't going anywhere. The Sabres scored on the power play in the first period on Derek Roy's 14th goal of the season, at 7:12, and doubled the lead when Brad Boyes scored at 8:16 of the second, five seconds after an Anaheim penalty expired.

"We were really counting on tonight because we could have jumped over a team," Boudreau said. "Friday, if things went well, we could have jumped over another team. And then Saturday, we could have tied a team.

"It's a little bit of a heartbreaker, but this team hasn't quit in two and a half months, so I don't expect them to quit now."

The Ducks kept firing away in the third period, launching 20 shots at Miller in the final 20 minutes. Frustration took hold and the team leaders, the ones supposed to provide offense, took offense at slights, in particular, captain Ryan Getzlaf, scrapping with defenseman Mike Weber with 39 seconds remaining.

"It was a hard-fought game I got cross-checked in the face and I didn't want to take that at the end of the game," Getzlaf said.

Another reason for the outsized frustration: Getzlaf hasn't scored in 17 games, a stretch going back more than a month, to Jan. 22 against Colorado. He has all of eight goals in 64 games.

"He was reacting and he was frustrated," Boudreau said. "You can't be in control all the time. He's gone a long time without scoring.

"He might put on a little bit of a facade to you guys, but you've got to believe it is bothering him. Just being the captain and the leader, and he wants to score more than anybody and he's trying harder."

"It was a hard-fought game. ... I got cross-checked in the face and I didn't want to take that at the end of the game," Getzlaf said. "That's what happened there. It was at a point where I wasn't deliberating whether the horn was going to blow or not."

Another reason for the outsized frustration: Getzlaf hasn't scored in 17 games, a stretch going back more than a month, to Jan. 22 against Colorado. He has all of eight goals in 64 games.

"He was reacting and he was frustrated," Boudreau said. "You can't be in control all the time. He's gone a long time without scoring.

"He might put on a little bit of a facade to you guys, but you've got to believe it is bothering him. Just being the captain and the leader, and he wants to score more than anybody and he's trying harder. He's shooting the puck a lot more and just it's not going in."

Etc.

The split between the Ducks and their distant minor league affiliate, the Syracuse (N.Y.) Crunch of the American Hockey League, appears inevitable.

Syracuse has decided not to pick up its option for next season, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard. The development was hardly a shock. Especially since Murray said on a conference call with Ducks reporters on Monday that he was disappointed in what has happened in Syracuse this season, in terms of the performance.

"This was not a surprise; we have known about this for quite some time," Murray said in a statement about Syracuse's decision.

"We will have options for next year and are currently exploring the possibilities. We hope to have a strong finish to the season and certainly wish Syracuse well in the future."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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