ANAHEIM -- Not many teams have managed to beat the Washington Capitals so far this season, and even fewer have done it at home. But the Ducks put up a heck of a fight trying to knock them off tonight.
Anaheim ever-so-briefly tied the game early in the third period before ultimately succumbing in a 3-2 defeat to the NHL-best Caps (22-4-5) at Honda Center. Washington won its sixth game in a row in improving its gaudy road record to 14-2-1.
"I thought we handled ourselves really well in the game," said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. "Despite some hiccups throughout the game, I thought we played really hard. We had lots of opportunities. They're a good hockey team. They're opportunistic. We came out on the wrong end of it."
Adam Henrique tied the game 2-2 in the opening minute of the third with a snipe from the right wing that darted under the crossbar.
Video: WSH@ANA: Henrique converts Getzlaf's feed
But the Caps went back in front off a bad turnover that turned into an easy Jakub Vrana goal from the slot.
Anaheim sent goalie Ryan Miller to the bench for an extra attacker in the final minute and a half and nearly got the equalizer before time ran out on them.
The Ducks were looking for payback after a 5-2 beating on November 18 in Washington, a game in which Anaheim and Washington combined for 50 minutes worth of penalties at the end of the second period. That included two fighting majors, a 10-minute misconduct, a game misconduct and a match penalty that led to a three-game suspension for Washington's Garnet Hathaway after an ugly spitting incident with Erik Gudbranson.
Gudbranson and Hathaway tangled in another fight in the third period, just one of many scuffles on a contentious and physical battle between the two combatants (which just happened to be Star Wars Night at Honda Center).
The Caps struck first on a one-timer from a sharp angle by Travis Boyd that got behind Miller, making his second straight start in place of John Gibson (flu-like symptoms). Miller had 33 saves on the night.
The Ducks came very close to tying the game in the closing seconds of the first and the opening seconds of the second, only to be thwarted by Caps goalie Braden Holtby each time.
Washington's vaunted power play (fifth-best in the NHL) came through yet again five minutes into the period when Evgeny Kuznetsov snuck a wrister through from the right wing.
Anaheim appeared to cut the lead in half on a Sam Steel one-timer on the power play, but Washington challenged on the grounds that Cam Fowler was offside prior to the goal, and it was disallowed.
The Ducks ultimately did get their first goal when Getzlaf put away a rebound from the slot with three minutes left in the period.
Video: WSH@ANA: Getzlaf powers home loose puck
"I thought it was a great game," said Ducks coach Dallas Eakins. "From our side, I thought it was one of those nights. We were a true team. The guys were all in it together. Lots of talk on the bench and between periods. Lots of positives. It was a true team effort. Those are heartbreaking when you can't get the win."