After a three game road trip that was not horrible, but only earned two out of six points with two overtime losses, the Ducks were looking forward to coming home. Seven of the next eight games to be played in their own building where they were 7-1-1 on the season was comforting enough.
Rather than start the homestand with a win, the Columbus handed the Ducks only their second regulation loss in the building with a 4-3 victory for the Blue Jackets.
It was not for lack of effort, as the Ducks had 50 shots on goal against Steve Mason, who won the Calder Trophy two seasons ago (beating out Bobby Ryan as rookie of the year). Half of those shots came in the third period alone, not unlike Wednesday's game against Minnesota when the Ducks outshot the Wild 16-2 in the final period. Mason was back in Calder form and he helped his team take home two points.
"Mason held the net well and he smothered rebounds pretty well," Ryan said. "But when you get 50 shots, you should get more than three goals. And that falls on us - not on him being so good. It's frustrating, obviously, but we've been on the other end of that, too."
As always Ryan was bluntly honest,a refreshing quality when most answers from players seem to be pre-scripted and politically correct. Ryan was right. You should get more than three goals when you have that many shots.
Rick Nash got the Blue Jackets on the board at 11:02 of the first period. Then again, when hasn't Nash scored against the Ducks?
The Ducks were handed a 5 on 3 opportunity at the end of the first period and wasted no time with the fresh sheet of ice going into the second to even up the game at 1-1. Saku Koivu finished off a perfect pass from Teemu Selanne just :17 seconds into the period. The point gave Selanne the 1282nd point of his career, giving him sole possession of 32nd all time in scoring, passing Alex Delvecchio.
Selanne left the game with a sore groin in the middle of the third period and did not return. Hopefully it will be nothing serious, as the ageless wonder is second on the Ducks in points with 22, just one behind Corey Perry and one more than Ryan Getzlaf. With the second line clicking as it has been, the Ducks can ill afford to lose Selanne for an extended period of time.
The Ducks took the lead for the only time in the game with a short-handed goal from Ryan at 5:01, the first of his career. The lead was short-lived when the Blue Jackets tied things up again on the power play just :25 seconds later with a goal from Chris Clark.
Jakub Voracek made it 3-2 at 13:48, finishing off Sami Pahlsson's rebound behind Jonas Hiller. The Ducks had just turned over the puck as Kyle Palmieri had stumbled to the ice in the neutral zone. A fluke goal by Mike Commodore gave Columbus their eventual game winner at 16:56.
Perry got his 10th of the year at 7:22 of the third period, pulling the Ducks back within one goal. Despite all 25 shots in that period alone, nothing else went behind Mason and the game was over.
"We didn’t play with the desperation that was necessary for 60 minutes," said coach Randy Carlyle. "It seemed like we got up 2-1 and sat back. They didn’t change what they were doing. They just played a grinding road game."
The Ducks should not slack off against Western Conference bottom dwellers, the Edmonton Oilers, on Sunday. Past history has shown that the Ducks rise up to playing good teams and tend to sink when playing poor teams. If the Ducks want to break a four game losing streak, they cannot take their Sunday opponent lightly.