The Anaheim Ducks had a couple days off between games to get used to the Eastern time zone and prepare for the game against the Atlanta Thrashers. In the end, it was the Thrashers that bested the Ducks, 2-1.
Despite the return of Saku Koivu, who missed four games with a sprained knee, the Ducks were unable to take advantage of four power plays. They are still struggling with the man advantage, a problem that has to be resolved sooner rather than later.
The game remained tied going into the second period. Colby Armstrong took advantage of plenty of traffic in front of the net and cleaned up the rebound that popped his way at 4:32. Jonas Hiller, who was getting his 11th start in a row, left plenty of rebounds lying around all evening, something that would eventually do the Ducks in.
The Ducks finally got some traffic in front of Johan Hedberg and Steve Eminger got his second goal of the year at 17:58. Hedberg, who had complained that he was interfered with, further lost his cool by taking a blatant cross-checking penalty a minute and a half later, getting his frustrations out on Matt Beleskey.
After that, Hedberg was his usual cool, calm, collected self, stopping everything else he saw, including 15 shots in the third period alone.
While the Ducks could not get a power play goal if their lives depended on it, Atlanta did. Maxim Afinogenov scored at 4:03 of the third to give the Thrashers the 2-1 lead. It was the game winner and the difference maker.
Anaheim has been a very good team in the third period, but continually waiting until the third period to pour things on and make up a deficit is not a good strategy for a team that needs points. I suggest another tactic - try having a lead going into the third and maintaining it!
In the meantime, the Ducks get no rest between this game and the next. They go right at it again with the Washington Capitals, a team that will absolutely smoke you in the offense department. They won their 7th game in a row against the New York Islanders this evening and the Ducks can only hope that the Capitals are just a little bit tired for the game tomorrow night.
So far the Ducks are 1-2 halfway through their road trip and won't get any easier. The Ducks are still four points out of a playoff spot and it does not take much to slip further in the standings. Maybe someone in Anaheim can Federal Express the power play so it gets there in time for the game in D.C. They are going to need it.