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Ducks left to shake their heads after poor effort

by Brian Compton / NHL.com
DETROIT -- Sure, the Anaheim Ducks were frustrated by what transpired Sunday at Joe Louis Arena. After all, they had a chance to go home with a 3-2 lead in their Western Conference semifinal against the Detroit Red Wings.

Instead, though, Anaheim looked fatigued and worn down for much of a 4-1 loss in Game 5. The Ducks were outshot 14-3 in the opening period, but managed to escape unscathed in a scoreless tie. Despite trailing only 2-1 after 40 minutes, they were outshot 15-5 in the third.

It left them perplexed.

"For sure, we did not," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said when asked if his team played with desperation. "I thought at times, we looked worn down or whatever word you want to describe it."

Defenseman James Wisniewski agreed.

"Not at all," he said when posed the same question. "We played like it was Game 38 of the regular season. But the beauty of it is we're only down 3-2. Winning two in a row has been done many times over the years, and then we win the series."

Anaheim can bring this best-of-7 series back to Detroit with a victory Tuesday at the Honda Center (10 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN). If the Ducks plan on doing that, they'll have to avoid another slow start and pepper Chris Osgood with more than the 17 shots they recorded in Game 5.

"We didn't play well at the start and they played very well," Anaheim captain Scott Niedermayer said. "They had the puck. We had little spurts of activity, but that's not enough against a good team like that. To win a game, we need to be a lot better. It's as simple as that."

The Ducks played fairly well in the second period, as Ryan Whitney cut a 2-0 deficit in half with a power-play goal at 15:37. When the horn sounded, each team had fired nine shots.

The third period, however, resembled the first in many ways. Jonas Hiller kept his team in the game with a couple of tremendous saves on Marian Hossa, but Darren Helm gave Detroit a 3-1 lead with 3:08 to play before Henrik Zetterberg added an empty-net tally in the final minute.

"In the third, offensively we just didn't get it done," Niedermayer said. "That's the time when you're down by one goal and you're trying to get some opportunities. We had a couple, but that's not enough. You can't just hope that it's going to happen. You've got to make it happen."

The Ducks will get a chance to do that in front of their own fans on Tuesday night. The first thing they'll have to have is a short memory, because there weren't many positives to take home with them.

"You forget about the game 10 minutes after, and then you move on to the next game," Wisniewski said. "We'll forget about it on the plane ride home. We've got Game 6 back at our building. All we have to do is get it to a Game 7 because anything can happen then."

The second ingredient heading into Game 6 is a 60-minute effort. Clearly, the Ducks didn't give that on Sunday. And they know it.

"We still had our chances," said Hiller, who made 34 saves in Game 5. "It was still not the game we wanted to play. We know we have to play better. If we play our game, we always have a chance. That's the way we have to play next game.

"In playoffs, I think every game should be desperate," Hiller said. "We didn't show that tonight."

Contact Brian Compton at: bcompton@nhl.com.
   


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