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The Anaheim Ducks suffered their third loss in a row last night, falling 3-1 to the St. Louis Blues.
Following up from last game, the Ducks came in with some new-look lines. Leo Carlsson centered Frank Vatrano and Ryan Strome, while Max Jones and Alex Killorn played on the wings for Mason McTavish. Troy Terry also moved down to play with Adam Henrique and Jakob Silfverberg, while Brett Leason came back into action in place of Brock McGinn on the fourth line, alongside Sam Carrick and Bo Groulx.
In the first period, it looked like the Ducks had managed to pull ahead first for a change, with Frank Vatrano sending a puck off the end boards that got to Urho Vaakanainen, and it was batted past Joel Hofer and in. However, the goal was challenged by the Blues for offside and overturned, so the game remained scoreless.
Then minutes later, Alex Killorn had a terrible turnover in his own end, and Oskar Sundqvist got a pass over to Jake Neighbours for a one-timer, which opened the scoring for St. Louis. Shortly after, Mason McTavish took a four-minute high-sticking penalty, and while the Ducks did come up with a big kill, they ended up taking another penalty right after it expired, and Pavel Buchnevich tapped in a pass from Jordan Kyrou on the ensuing power play to make it a 2-0 game.
Anaheim had a good opportunity to get back in the game with some power play time of their own late in the period, but couldn’t get much going, and remained down by two through 20 minutes.
St. Louis continued adding to their lead in the second period, as Alexey Toropchenko spun with a loose puck in front and fired it on net to beat Gibson, extending the lead to 3-0. The Ducks did get on the board a few minutes later though, as the Blues turned the puck over and Mason McTavish went to the backhand to beat Hofer.
Then after killing a penalty shortly after, the Ducks nearly pulled back to within one when Max Jones rang a shot off the post, but remained down 3-1 heading into the second intermission.
While we’ve maybe become accustomed to the Ducks battling back with strong third periods, that wasn’t necessarily the case this time around. Anaheim managed only eight shots and both the urgency and quality chances weren’t there, as the Ducks fell 3-1.
Facing a team who was on the road and coming off a blowout loss less than 24 hours earlier, you would’ve hoped for a better game from Anaheim. While it can sometimes take the Ducks a bit of time to wake up in a game, you can usually see the intensity is there by night’s end, and that just wasn’t really the case last night, in what was one of their more disappointing outings of the year.
The Ducks have suffered from a lack of scoring lately, with just seven goals over their last four games, but the new lines didn’t bring much. I’d argue that especially without Trevor Zegras available, the Ducks don’t have enough high-end offense yet to really spread out scoring across three lines. The only one that really worked was the Frank Vatrano/Ryan Strome line, with Leo Carlsson up the middle.
While the McTavish line did score, I still just don’t think Max Jones should be playing up the lineup. Jones would be fine in a depth role, but the insistence on using him with players who can generate offense can sometimes weigh down the rest of the line.
They were also alongside Alex Killorn, who’s off to a bit of a slow start since joining the Ducks. Killorn always benefitted from high-end talent around him in Tampa Bay that helped him put up strong numbers, so there shouldn’t have been the same expectation for huge offensive upside coming to Anaheim. But the winger should be bringing more elements to his game, and the biggest impact he had last night was the turnover leading to the Blues’ first goal.
So with the loss, the Ducks are back down to a .500 record. They still rank fourth in the Pacific Division in points percentage exclusively because of how poor the rest of the division has been early on, but are quickly losing ground.
The Ducks will be back in action on Wednesday, when they host the Montreal Canadiens.
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