Slow start haunts Ducks in season-ending loss

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Anaheim Ducks’ magical season came to a crashing halt Sunday night at Honda Center.

The Detroit Red Wings shocked the second seeded Ducks, downing Anaheim 3-2 in the deciding Game 7 of their opening-round playoff series. 

“It’s obviously very disappointing,” said a somber Teemu Selanne. “We had two chances to close them out and we couldn’t do it. That’s very disappointing. They played well.  Credit to those guys, but it’s still very disappointing that we couldn’t play our best game tonight.”

Once again, the Ducks had to play catch up as they have had to do throughout the series. Anaheim had 15 come-from-behind victories in the regular season, but in the end, coming back against a veteran Red Wing team was too much as it proved to be their undoing.

“It seemed like we weren’t ready to go until we got put in a hole in an awful lot of games,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. “When you’re in the seventh game of the playoffs, that’s a hard hole to climb out of.”

“There’s no explanation for the slow start,” added Selanne. “That’s been our problem all year. If we could fix that one problem, we’d be in better shape. “

The Ducks lost all four games in the series by one goal and three of the losses came in overtime.

While Detroit’s dynamic duo of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk combined for five goals and 10 assists, the Red Wings frustrated the Ducks’ Corey Perry all series long as he finished without a goal in the series.

“It’s disappointing, but I’m sure he’s just as disappointed, said Boudreau. “When you lose the series by one goal, a player of his stature is probably thinking if I could have scored at least one goal we would have won the series. Things like that happen. Great players can sometimes be nullified in a series. He’s not the first person that was held scoreless in a playoff series that was expected to do better. Hopefully he’ll learn by it and next year this situation won’t happen.”

Following the end of game ceremonial handshakes, Ducks fans chanted, “One more year,”  begging 42-year-old Teemu Selanne to return for a 22nd NHL season.

Fighting back the tears, Selanne addressed whether he has enough left in the tank for one more.

“At this time I don’t want to think about it,” said Selanne. “It’s a big decision. I need to take some time off and clear my head and think about what is my next step. I don’t really have to play (for the money) but this has been so much fun. If I had a feeling either way, I’d tell you right now but that is just not the case.”

Anaheim’s failure to capture the series also means fans and players alike missed out on an
opportunity for the first -ver Ducks and Kings payoff series. A fact that didn’t go unnoticed by Selanne.

“I was really looking forward to it,” said Selanne.  “We have never faced each other in the playoffs and that would have really been great for hockey in Southern California.  That is one thing that I am really disappointed about that we won’t get the chance to face them.”

If this is the last that we have seen of the “Finnish Flash,” Ducks fans should celebrate the fact that for his 14 seasons in Anaheim, they were witness one of the greatest and classiest players ever to play the game. Maybe that notion can take some of the sting away from the team’s first-round exit.