|This pretty much sums up last night for the Ducks.
When you've won as much as the Ducks have won lately, when you have the league's best record since January 1, it just feels like you're not supposed to lose. When you throw 43 shots on net -- 20 in the third period alone -- it really feels like you're not supposed to lose.
But thanks to the work of Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, the Ducks suffered a loss they could ill afford, a 2-0 defeat at Honda Center that cost them a chance to make up precious ground in the Western Conference standings. Miller saved all 43 Anaheim shots on net, earning his 26th career shutout and his first in five appearances against the Ducks.
And the Ducks showed their frustration in the final minute, as both Ryan Getzlaf
and Corey Perry
got in fights during play, and several members of the Ducks and Sabres engaged in a brawl after the horn.
It was an ugly way to end a night in which Anaheim could have gotten to within five points of the eighth spot in the West, as Dallas lost 4-3 in a shootout in a game that ended just after we dropped the puck at Honda Center. The Ducks could have moved into 12th place and been just a point shy of Calgary in 11th. (Right now it's not just about getting close to that eighth spot, but passing the cluster to other teams also fighting for it.)
“We were really counting on tonight because we could have jumped over a team,” Boudreau said. “And then Friday, if things went well, we could have jumped over another team. And then Saturday, we could have tied a team (the Kings).”
Now we can only move on from this one and focus on those games, and try not to engage in the agonizing scoreboard watching in the meantime. For example, three games on the NHL docket tonight involve teams fighting with Anaheim for that playoff spot: Calgary at Phoenix, Minnesota at Montreal and Columbus at Colorado. (For the sanity's sake, it's best to avoid watching those games, and just wake up in the morning to see where the Ducks stand.)
That extra day of February marked the end of an interesting month for the Ducks, as they suffered consecutive losses to Dallas and Columbus at home to start it, then went on a 8-1-2 tear before dropping two in a row to finish it. Now the Ducks have 18 games left in March and April, where they desperately need to go on another torrid run.
“It’s a little bit of a heartbreaker,” Boudreau said of last night's defeat. “But this team hasn’t quit in two and a half months, so I don’t expect them to quit now.”