Cary, NC – Ouch! This loss hurt big time. The previous 24 hours saw a gutsy move by team management – probably Rod Brind’Amour and Don Waddell with possible approval from Tom Dundon – when they put goalie Scott Darling on waivers. To a lesser degree, Valentine Zykov was also put on waivers, who was then picked up by Edmonton.
Darling cleared waivers and was sent to Charlotte and will more than likely be the backup goalie there. Give the Canes’ top brass credit for ending this nightmare when they did, which was just a month after Darling started playing and unfortunately where he left off after last season.
With all that behind them, the Canes lost a hard game 2-1 in overtime to the Anaheim Ducks. During the player introductions, Curtis McElhinney was given the loudest ovation, which was part endorsement of the Darling move, part for Darling’s 48 saves in Montreal two days earlier and part for being McElhinney.
Svechnikov Opens Scoring
After what coach Brind’Amour described as a weak defensive effort in Montreal that had the Canadiens get off 49 shots on goal with the Canes still getting the 2-1 win, the Canes got back to their tight-checking game, limiting the Ducks to just six shots while sending 21 towards John Gibson. Gibson was outstanding all game and without him, the Canes win a blowout but the netminder was solid and had the quickest glove the Canes have seen this season.
The Canes’ Michael Ferland was diagnosed with a concussion, so missing the leading goal scorer who also has the most grit and physical presence forced lines to be shuffled. The TSA line of Jordan Staal, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen was reunited, Brock McGinn, Justin Williams and Victor Rask on the second line and Andrei Svechnikov, Lucas Wallmark and Jordan Martinook on the third which was the best line of the night.
Late in the period with the Canes on a penalty kill, Martinook got off a great chance off a feed by Warren Foegele that also saw Foegele get a shot off the rebound. A few minutes later, the teams were playing 4-on-4 when Jaccob Slavin sent a Hail Mary pass to Dougie Hamilton just before the Ducks blue line that allowed Hamilton to go in alone but Gibson made a great save.
On the next rush with lines changing, Aho passed back to Hamilton who sent a soft pass to Svech right after he jumped over the boards. Svech skated down the right wing, made a quick cut left then used the defender as a screen and let go a hard shot with Williams in front for a partial screen that fooled Gibson for a 1-0 lead late in the period.
Both Goalies Very Sharp
The fourth line of Foegele, Clark Bishop and Phil Di Giuseppe was full of energy which should be typical of any fourth line but were wide open in the second. After a lengthy shift, PDG grabbed the puck below the Canes goal line, put on his jets, went up the left side, cut to the center in the neutral zone, entering the Ducks end on the right then going back to the goal for a backhander. Sure, he was hoping the shot went in but that individual effort allow a full change for the Canes on both offense and defense.
It’s those little things coaches notice and reward. While the Canes’ powerplay has been better lately, it was not effective all night eventually going 0-for-6. Converting just one of those golden opportunities could have had a dramatic effect on the outcome of the game. Both goalies had strong games and while all Caniacs were hoping McElhinney would get a shutout, getting an insurance goal would have given everyone relief.
The Canes’ two power plays in the second were weak and slow with the Ducks defense seemingly always in the right position to thwart any effective pass or shot. Even with the power plays, the Canes were able to only muster five shots in the period.
The Ducks are on a strong streak now and weren’t going to go down without a fight. They came out strong in the third, banging bodies at every opportunity with McGinn taking the hardest blow of the game along the near boards on a legal check. McGinn made note number of the truck that hit him – #15, Ryan Getzlaf – but knew going after someone nearly twice his size wasn’t a healthy choice.
The Ducks had a game high 14 shots in the third and none better than the one that wound up as a goal. Fourth liner Pontus Aberg got a crisp pass while behind the Canes net. Just as he was trying to circle the goal, Calvin de Haan reached with his stick to block the shot however the puck went straight up in the air and Aberg batted it in off McElhinney’s back into the net to tie the game with a little over three minutes left.
The Ducks won the draw in overtime, immediately going back in their own zone for a purposeful attack. The Canes throttled any attempt to even cross their own blue line, and three times, the Ducks circled back to reorganize. As both teams were making a line change, Getzlaf got behind Justin Faulk, who had a great game, received a long pass, going in on McElhinney alone, putting one top shelf to end the game. This is how a Duck can sting like a bee.
The Canes are off for a week long trip to play all the California teams. Next home game is Tuesday, December 11, 2018 against Toronto. Big crowd expected. Be there!