The Ducks came up against Eric Staal and the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday evening. Both Staal and goaltender Cam Ward were immovable and the Ducks lost 4-2 in their third game of a seven game road trip.
Ryan Getzlaf put the Ducks on the board at 2:39 but after that it was the Staal show.
Staal scored two power play goals at 7:27 and 19:33 of the first period. After getting burned two for two, common sense should have told the Ducks to stay out of the penalty box. Then again, when have the Ducks used common sense?
Staal, who had 10 of the Hurricanes 32 shots on goal, continued to blitz through everything and everyone on the ice. Goal number three came at 1:41 of the second period and did not need a power play to do it. The natural hat trick seemed inevitable after his first goal.
Once again, the Ducks were behind and had to catch up. They did not come close until the end of the hockey game when Getzlaf got his second goal of the game at 18:12. Staal happened to be in the penalty box, about the only time he was not a threat during the game.
Further power plays for the Ducks and Jonas Hiller pulled for yet another attacker gave the Ducks a 6 on 3 opportunity. It did not yield anything but an empty net goal for Carolina with just five seconds left in the game.
Ward stopped 43 shots, most of them coming in the final period, and could easily have earned the game's first star were it not for Staal.
"When we have needed (Ward) to make the saves, he has," said Staal. "He's one of the best in the league, and we expect that every night, and take it for granted some nights. But he was big for us, especially at the end."
Ward was equally full of praise for Staal.
"Staal has the ability to take the game over," praised Ward. "He really picked up his play when we were down one goal and put the team on his shoulders. There's a reason why he's one of the more dominant players in the league."
The Ducks will continue to plow through this road trip, with the next two coming back to back in Boston and Buffalo on Monday and Tuesday.
In other notes: Teemu Selanne returned to the line-up after missing four games with a strained groin. Dan Sexton was returned to Syracuse, even though there is room on the roster for him.