The case of a shootout’s place in hockey has been a curious and oftentimes controversial one since its addition to the NHL in 2005.
In a scene Wednesday night that only added fuel to that fire, the post-trade deadline matchup between the Anaheim Ducks and the Montreal Canadiens ended in a 4-3 Canadiens shootout win after a no-goal was ruled on a post-to-post shot by Anaheim’s Kyle Palmieri. The puck might have actually gone in the net and it might not have; the answer to that question really depends on who you ask.
Although much of a shootout’s controversy stems from allowing so-called luck to determine two points, Anaheim’s game at Honda Center last night was lost well before the shootout clock began to tick. With an early on Montreal score of 1-0 and a shots on goal total of 7-0 in the Canadien’s favor, the Ducks looked nothing like the team that has been nearly impossible to conquer on home ice this season.
During the post-game interview, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau chalked the loss up to a slow start resulting from the team’s focus on trades and acquisitions this week rather than the game at hand. In the past, slow starts have never been an issue for the league leading group as they have rightfully earned the nickname of “the comeback kids” with their unchallenged ability to rally back from deficits and win games.
But with the loss of winger Dustin Penner, who was traded to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, and defensemen Luca Sbisa playing left wing, the Canadiens took advantage of the Ducks’ disconnect, keeping Anaheim on their heels throughout most of the 65 minutes of game time.
Penner’s absence was indeed noticeable on the top line, where in a rare occurrence, both Anaheim’s leading scorers Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf were left off the board; Perry did score in the shootout.
One of the night’s better looks, though, came when the team switched Sbisa from offense to defense, a move which created solid chances and a drive tipped in by Tim Jackman for the Ducks’ first goal. In fact, Anaheim might not be too crazy to explore their options of helping Sbisa make a more permanent change on the wing during this last stretch of games.
But a loss is a loss — it’s always tough to go home from one on any given night, even more so in a city where such game endings have come few and far between this season. However, now is not the time to fret, Ducks fans — your comeback kids certainly aren’t done yet, and the season isn’t over until the Cup is lifted.