Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Penalty Killing a Thorn in Ducks Side in Game 1 Loss

Poor penalty killing didn't hurt the Anaheim Ducks as they swept Calgary out of the first round but it came back to bite the Ducks as they fell to the Oilers 5-3 in Game 1 of their best-of-7 Western Conference semifinal on Wednesday at Honda Center.

Mark Letestu buried two power play goals to stake the Oilers to a 2-1 lead in the third period, and Edmonton surged on the momentum to stretch the lead to 3-1 less than two minutes later when defenseman Adam Larsson scored his first of two goals at 8:03 of the third.

The Ducks have now allowed 8 power play goals in 23 times shorthanded during the playoffs. During the regular season Anaheim was the 4th-best team on the penalty kill with a success rate of 84.7 percent.

"I think they won the specialty teams battle in the end and that probably was the difference in the game," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle after the loss. "Our penalty killing let them take some of the emotion and momentum in the hockey game and put it in their favor."

Cam Fowler made his return to the the ice after missing all four games in the first round due to a knee injury suffered in the final week of the season when he was hit by Calgary's Mark Giordano. He played 4:20 shorthanded.

Meanwhile, the Ducks lost defenseman Kevin Bieksa to a lower body injury and his status for Game 2 is currently unknown.

The Ducks rallied on two goals in 85 seconds by Patrick Eaves and Jacob Silfverberg, but let Adam Larsson strike for his second goal, a back-breaker aat 15:20 of the third period.

Larsson raced up the ice, carved his way into the Ducks zone and threw a puck into the crease from behind the net that caromed off of Josh Manson and into the net. Anaheim added an empty netter by Leon Draisaitl to ice the game at 18:55. Draisaitl had four points on the night.

"We didn't have our position in the neutral ice," said Carlyle of the Larsson goal. "There's no way we should allow Larsson to skate from the top of his circle into our zone unimpeded."

Game 2 of the series is Friday night in Anaheim. The Ducks had an 18-game streak without a regulation loss snapped tonight. Their last regulation loss came on March 10th.