ANAHEIM, Calif. — It was an important game to Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau.
It was only his second game against the team that he led to the 2009-10 President’s Trophy, and his team wanted to come out and leave absolutely everything they had on the ice for their head coach.
But as has become typical with the Ducks, special teams struggled and the team couldn’t quite come up with that win that they wanted for Boudreau, falling to the Capitals 3-2 at the Honda Center Tuesday night.
"This is a big one for Bruce, we all knew it," said defenseman Ben Lovejoy. "I think we came out with a lot of passion. When we are skating, when we’re playing tough hockey, we get our forecheck going. We had that going tonight but we weren’t able to put more than two in the net.
The Ducks, once again, went scoreless on the power play and gave up two power play goals to the Caps, including a quick snipe by the league’s leader in goals, Alexander Ovechkin. They needed only 2:29 of power play time to score on three attempts while the Ducks couldn’t even capitalize on an early two-man advantage.
#NHLDucks Boudreau on the struggles on special teams: "We need to correct it in the next 13 games or we're in trouble." #ANAvsWSH
It looked as if the team had finally broken through on the power play with only a second left of the penalty in the third period when Matthieu Perreault scored, but an error was later found with the scoreboard clock. The penalty expired between the shot and the goal and the Ducks sank even deeper into a 2-for-50 power play slump.
"Power play is the key right now probably for every team," Ovechkin said. "If you have that kind of opportunity, you have to use it."
"Our special teams weren’t special," Lovejoy said. "They were able to get very easy goals on the power play, our penalty kill, and that was the difference in the game."
It’s a mystery that continues to baffle Boudreau.
"It’s been our achilles all year," Boudreau. "We don’t score on the power play and we don’t defend on the PK. It’s something that we’ve got 13 games to correct or we’re going to be in trouble. Five-on-five, we play I think pretty solid most every night, but our specialty teams, not so much."
The game marked the return of defenseman Stephane Robidas, the Ducks’ trade deadline acquisition, who suffered a broken leg earlier in the season. Robidas was a -1 in his first game as a Duck, but with defenseman Cam Fowler still banged up, the Ducks need him more than ever.
#NHLDucks Robidas on his debut: "The conditioning was there, but the little things were off. That will improve the more I play." #ANAvsWSH
"It wasn’t my best, but the first one is out of the way," Robidas said. "I can move on, my leg is good. I got bumped a few times and tried to bump them a few times."
The Ducks got a favor from Florida Tuesday night, as the Sharks lost to the Panthers. The two Pacific Division foes are now tied with 97 points but the Ducks are far from looking like the dominant team that won 18-of-19 games in December and January.
Thursday, the Ducks will face San Jose at the Shark Tank in a battle that could likely set the tone for the rest of the season. It’s been almost like a broken record over the last couple weeks: Chances were there for the taking but no taking was done.