Once again, the Blue Jackets found themselves with a 2-0 deficit for the third time in a row, and had cut that deficit to one goal before the end of the first period.
Unlike the past two games, however, this time they would be unable to find a path to victory.
What was clearly going to be a spirited game, bad ice or no, was signaled by a flurry of hard hits from both sides right off the opening faceoff. Both sides worked to establish a physical advantage, but unfortunately the Jackets would find this turning on them when Derek Dorsett delivered a hard hit to Corey Perry behind the Ducks' net.
From the TV coverage, Perry appeared to turn his back to Dorsett as the agitator finished his check, and was knocked hard into the boards. Perry made a show of checking for missing teeth, while Dorsett was sent to the box with a 5 minute boarding major.
However bad the damage, Perry was right back out onto the power play. Perhaps Perry did embellish, and perhaps the penalty was more about the apparently look of the hit than the actual force.
Regardless, the Ducks' top rated power play would take advantage of the all you can eat buffet, with Teemu Selanne converting for his 10th power play goal of the season on an up ice rush with Bobby Ryan. The two Anaheim forwards knifed past both Marc Methot and Fedor Tyutin, and Ryan made a cross-crease pass to Selanne that he was able to tip past Steve Mason.
Less than a minute later Saku Koivu would send a pass from the blue line to Cam Fowler just above the faceoff circle, and the young defenseman would wind up and fire a hard slapper that went past a screened Mason.
After killing the remainder of the penalty, the Jackets tried to get momentum back, and Jared Boll would end up drawing a roughing penalty from George Parros when the big enforcer attempted to get him to drop the gloves. The Jackets would be unable to solve Hiller on that power play, but started to get some good looks, and the momentum appeared to continue to swing in their favor when Parros challenged Boll again after leaving the penalty box, and the two engaged in a spirited bout. Perhaps to the surprise of many who might be going just off the stats, Boll not only held his own against big George, but took his lid off and in the opinion of many came out with the decision after the linesmen separated them.
Shortly after the bout, the Jackets drew a 5-on-3 advantage with Toni Lydman and Andy Sutton both in the box, and while they couldn't double up, Rick Nash would get the Jackets on the board when he took a good feed from Derick Brassard, passing from the goal line back up to Nash at the top of the zone, weaved in to set up his shot, and fired it past Hiller's glove side for the power play goal.
Through the second period, the Jackets continued to pound away on Hiller, but the all star netminder turned away all comers, and the Refs chose to turn a blind eye to a few hits that looked as bad, if not worse, than the Dorsett major, including a nasty shot on Jan Hejda by Selanne.
The score would be unchanged going into the third period, but unfortunately the Ducks would be the ones to extend their lead a little less than five minutes in when the Selanne line reconnected, with Selanne shooting wide, Koivu getting to the puck behind the net, and feeding a wide open Jason Blake who was able to go in for a stuff on Steve Mason after Fedor Tyutin over-compensated and pursued Selanne rather than sticking with his man.
At the midpoint of the period, the Jackets found themselves with another power play advantage after Lubomir Visnovsky was sent to the box for a hooking call, and this time the power play wouldn't need nearly as much time - Grant Clitsome would pass the puck to Fedor Tyutin on the blue line, who fed it down low to Jakub Voracek. Voracek would shoot and Derick Brassard would clean up the rebound, bringing the Jackets back to within one, but even with Mason pulled for an extra attacker late, the Jackets could not get one more puck past Hiller.
Final Score - Jackets 2, Ducks 3.
- Derick Brassard - With a goal and an assist tonight, Brass was a major contributor on the power play.
- Grant Clitsome - All 7 of the last Jackets' power play goals have come with him on the ice. His mobility with the puck continues to be a bright spot in the defensive corps.
- Jared Boll - An impressive showing against one of the grand old fighters of the NHL.
Bottom Of The Barrel:
- 2-0 deficits - Seriously, can we cut this out? The major penalty was an unfortunate circumstance, but good lord.
- Secondary Scoring - Both Jackets' goals came from the top line / top PP unit. This was a night where someone else needed to step up, and they failed to do so.
- Defensive Speed - Two of the three Duck goals came from the Ducks getting behind the defense and leaving Mason unsupported. Mason didn't really have a great night himself (19 saves on 22 shots), but he got NO defensive help.
There were a lot of complaints about the officiating for this game, and I agree with some of them, but I also look at the box score, and with the exception of the Boll / Parros fight, every power play advantage after the Dorsett major went to the Jackets. Even if they missed other calls, you can't say that they didn't give the Jackets a chance to get back in this game. And to be fair, the team did put 37 shots on Hiller...it just wasn't enough.
With the all star break, the Jackets will now take a week off before they're allowed to officially hold practices again on Monday, and then host the Chicago Blackhawks next Tuesday.