Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff makes a save during second period… (Larry MacDougal / Associated…)
CALGARY, Canada — The sprint to the Stanley Cup playoffs can be a thing to behold.
Unfortunately for the Ducks, it has been more like a sleepy saunter.
This four-game trip to Western Canada was supposed to be a victory lap for Anaheim, but it has turned into an opportunity to try to get things right in the final days of the season. What has been a concerning pattern of late deepened in a 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday night.
"Two weeks ago, three weeks ago, we had five losses in the season," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Nobody had seen failure. Now all of a sudden we're facing some adversity and evidently some of us aren't able to handle it as well as others."
The Ducks, once sitting comfortably at the No. 2 position in the Western Conference, rarely made things uncomfortable through the first 40 minutes for the Flames and their franchise star goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, who might have played his last home game.
The fans gave him a prolonged standing ovation and chanted: "Kipper! Kipper! Kipper!" in the last couple of minutes.
Kiprusoff, who faced 33 shots, was 3:41 away from recording his first shutout of the season when the Ducks' Corey Perry ended that story line at 16:19 of the third period, beating Kiprusoff up high on the stick side. But Roman Cervenka iced it with an empty-net goal with 51 seconds to play.
The Flames led 2-0 on goals by Roman Horak, at 2:45 of the second period, and enforcer Brian McGrattan, at 3:14 of the third period. McGrattan, not exactly known for his offensive prowess, managed to victimize both Ducks defenseman Sheldon Souray and Francois Beauchemin on the play.
In fact, McGrattan had three goals in 212 career games prior to this season. Now, he has three in this season
"There's a lot of disappointment," said Souray, speaking about the Ducks' performance. "We just have not played up to our level for a long stretch now. There's really no excuses."
The Ducks are still No. 2 in the West, but the Kings have pulled within five points.
Boudreau took issue with the notion that this was a "trap game," the question posed because Calgary has long been out of the race.
"That's a new buzz word: the trap game," Boudreau said. "I couldn't have cared less if we were playing a Midget team or the Russian national team. We needed the win and that should have been motivation enough.
"If other guys are thinking, 'Oh, they [Calgary] have got kids. They're out of the playoffs. And [Curtis] Glencross is hurt, three-quarters of the way through the first.' I mean, then those are the guys I don't want. I don't want those guys playing because that's not the right way to think at this stage of the year."
Goalie Viktor Fasth is day to day with a lower-body injury and so the Ducks called up goaltender Igor Bobkov from their Norfolk minor league team. Boudreau said Fasth was fine if they needed him, but the goalie wanted an extra day to get back to 100%.
Additionally the Ducks' Teemu Selanne missed his first game of the season, also out with a lower-body injury issue. It is not expected to be a lingering problem.
"It was his decision," Boudreau said. "He was a little tired and he was sore. I said, 'It's up to you. You've earned that right.'"