Distracted Ducks edged by Habs in shootout

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The NHL trade deadline passed hours before the Ducks hosted the Canadiens Wednesday night at the Honda Center, but that didn’t mean that it wasn’t still on the team’s minds as they took the ice. 

The Ducks are not usually a hot first-period team, typically coming on strong in the second period and holding teams off in the third. But Wednesday’s slow start had more behind it. It wasn’t as simple as struggling with consistency, and the 4-3 shootout loss to the Canadiens could have been different had the mental aspect of the trade deadline day not come into play.

"The mindset has to be in it from the start," said goaltender Jonas Hiller. "I don’t think today was an easy day with the trade deadline and things going on. It’s tough to kind of focus on the game. I thought we did a good job of coming back but at the same time we’ve got to be ready from the first minute to make life easier."

The Ducks earned a point and increased their league-leading total to 92 points, four ahead of second-place St. Louis. But Friday night could be a potential Stanley Cup preview with the Penguins in town. 

It was a game of odd bounces.

They fell behind 2-0 in the first before coming back in the second when a defenseman playing on the left wing deflected a shot off Tim Jackman’s stick for a goal. Later in the period, Francois Beauchemin went for a dump off, playing the puck off the boards. It bounced off the post and into the goal on the power play.

Daniel Winnik took the lead for Anaheim in the same period but with 36 seconds left, Brendan Gallagher scored to tie the game at 3-all. It remained tied through the third and overtime, and the two found themselves tied up at 2-2 in the shootout. 

The Ducks’ fifth shooter, Kyle Palmieri, looked to have taken a lead for the Ducks but replays showed his wrist shot over Dustin Tokarski’s shoulder bounced from post-to-post before dropping on the line, never fully crossing. The review was sent to the league and ruled no-goal. 

Tomas Plekanic missed the next attempt for the Habs, which would have given Anaheim the win. Instead, Saku Koivu missed his attempt and Andrei Markov netted the winner. 

"Everybody was cheering and I said, ‘Jeez, I don’t know if that went in,’" said coach Bruce Boudreau. "That’s the difference between winning and losing. They missed their next one by a 10th of an inch if anything."

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"I saw it go off the post and head towards the net but by the time it was bouncing off I didn’t even see it hit the other post," Palmieri said. "I looked back and the ref called it a goal. But then obviously, they went to review it and it didn’t go in so there’s not much you can do about it."

Prior to the game, general manager Bob Murray said he never intended to trade anyone on the Ducks’ active roster Wednesday. However, with the move of Dustin Penner to Washington Tuesday, names like Palmieri and Jakob Silfverberg were being thrown out. It’s not as easy as breathing a sigh of relief when the deadline passes.

"Everybody was still thinking about every trade that went on today and every movement that went on," Boudreau said. "They weren’t preparing the proper way, consequently we were behind the 8-ball and we had to battle in the second and third periods just to stay even."