Image by Flickr user bridgetds
After the OT loss against the Los Angeles Kings Saturday afternoon, the Anaheim Ducks were looking to make a major comeback on Sunday against the Florida Panthers. They reached a franchise record of five consecutive games reaching overtime and hoped that Sunday’s game would be the first won in regulation since November 2. With their injured reserve list still a mile long, and adding and subtracting players almost every day, it really was hard to tell how the night was going to go between the two speedy teams. The Panthers quickly took the lead and had the Ducks trailing behind them for the whole game.
The first period definitely proved to be a slow one between both teams. The Panthers’ eventual burst of speed proved to come in handy by holding the Ducks to only one goal during the entire period from defenseman Hampus Lindholm. Florida’s only goal of the first came from center Vincent Trocheck. After going back and forth for the first 20 minutes, the Ducks showed that they needed to start taking advantage of the many opportunities they had instead of sitting back and playing it safe. With a lot of Anaheim’s big guys out of the line up for a while, Florida seemed to know that this was the time to take advantage and get as many goals on Andersen as they could.
Anaheim upped their speed the minute the second period started but the Panthers charged them with the second goal of the game from right wing top scorer Brad Boyes. They continued to be a challenge, proven by the third goal of the night, scored quickly after the second, by Panthers’ center Nick Bjugstad. The Ducks had hold of the puck many times throughout the second period, but had trouble keeping it and shooting due to the drive that the Panthers had tonight. Right after the Panthers scored their third goal of the night, Jason LaBarbera replaced Frederik Andersen in net in the hopes that, with the rate he has been going, the game could completely turn around. But Jonathan Huberdeau and Brad Boyes would score on #30, extending the Panthers lead by another 2 goals.
With the score at 5-1 heading into the third, things had to hit overdrive soon or the Ducks would have suffered two losses back to back. LaBarbera’s slow reactions to goals in the second period drove Andersen back into the net. The Ducks suddenly shot back to life and had the puck in the Panthers’ zone for most of the beginning of the third, until Bjugstad managed to slip one past Andersen for his second goal of the night. Once again, Matt Belesky had another very good opportunity to make it into the net but just missed it by a little bit. Andrew Cogliano managed to get his second goal of the season with just 1:30 left in the game but it still ended in a loss for the Ducks at 6-2 and 29 overall shots on goal.
The Ducks seemed to have their luck looking up again with right wing star Corey Perry, and Kyle Palmieri back from being on the injured reserve list, and Norfolk, respectively. This was Palmieri’s first game back all season, and he was already driven into the wall by Colby Robak. After being diagnosed with first flu symptoms, then officially the mumps, Perry was finally ready to come back after tonight’s scratch list grew again with Tim Jackman out due to the flu and Devante Smith-Pelly gone with an upper body injury. The Ducks missed many shots that could have been easy goals, and that problem needs to be resolved before this coming week’s games. This was the first meeting between Florida and Anaheim this season, so there is time to turn this around at Calgary and Vancouver this week and before these teams play each other again in February.