There is a reason the Ducks had their home winning streak end at 13 games on Friday night in a 5-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Several reasons.
Anaheim, coming off an amazing high after beating the Chicago Blackhawks in regulation, just could not find that same energy and motivation against the Red Wings two days later. Normally that is not a problem, considering the rivalry between the two teams.
"To me that's an excuse," said coach Bruce Boudreau, who did not accept that possibility. "I believe it's an excuse. I don't know why it would be a letdown game. You have a whole 24 hours in between and you're playing the Detroit Red Wings for crying out loud. I would be jacked up just so I didn't hear their fans cheers in our building. That's embarrassing enough."
Another very good reason the Ducks lost was Justin Abdelkader. He proved to be a one man wrecking crew against Anaheim, earning his first ever hat trick and matching his goal production of last season in one fell swoop.
"Sometimes the puck will find you, or follow you, and maybe that was the case this game," said Abdelkader, who also had an assist on Johan Franzen's goal. "We had a good team game. I'm just trying to do my part and pull ... as Pav (Datsyuk) would say, the piano, up and down the ice."
A piano might have gone in past Viktor Fasth, rather than the proverbial beach ball. He got the start in net, but was not his sharpest. After allowing three goals in 11 shots, Fasth was yanked and Jonas Hiller was in. Hiller was not spectacular either, but then again, neither were the rest of his teammates.
"After the first goal they got, we were sort of dead in the water the rest of the game," said Boudreau. "I thought the first 10 minutes, we were all over them. We weren't very good the last 50 minutes."
The Ducks did have moments. It appeared that Emerson Etem had gotten his second goal at 6:45 of the first period, but it had bounced off his skate and into the net and was ruled no goal because of a kicking motion.
Teemu Selanne did put the Ducks on the scoreboard at 11:31 with his second goal in as many games after having a mini scoring drought. It was the only goal the Ducks would officially get past Jimmy Howard, who made 33 saves.
After that, it was the Abdelkader show. He scored at 13:36 of the first period and Datsyuk added a power play marker at 14:59. In the second period Abdelkader put the puck in the net at 3:06 and 12:46 to give the Red Wings an insurmountable lead.
The Ducks barely put up a fuss about it, unlike their usual "we can come back from anything" demeanor.
The only fight they really showed was captain Ryan Getzlaf risking his $8 million hands against Jonathan Ericsson at the end of the second period and Bobby Ryan in a rare tilt with Brendan Smith.
To make matters worse, Etem put the puck in the net himself at 15:17 of the third period, as if Detroit needed any help. Franzen got credit for the goal.
All in all, not a great night for the Ducks, who have been pretty good for most of the season.
"All good things have to come to an end eventually," commented Cam Fowler. "I think we would have liked a little better effort if we were going to watch it disappear. That's why we get to come out Sunday and get back at it again."
The Ducks are fortunate to get an immediate re-do against Detroit on Sunday. Not only will they have the opportunity to correct their errors and mistakes, but they will also have a chance to start a new home winning streak.