A season of streaks for the Anaheim Ducks finds the club hitting Thanksgiving trying to trim another lengthy slump when it hosts the Ottawa Senators on Friday afternoon.
A six-game winless stretch (0-3-3) was answered with eight straight victories for Anaheim, but the Ducks have followed up that run with three consecutive losses. The most recent defeat came on Wednesday in a 5-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche in Denver.
It was a game defined by the power play, with Anaheim’s Sonny Milano scoring twice with the man advantage. The Ducks, however, found themselves shorthanded on seven different occasions. Although the Avalanche scored on just one of those seven power-play chances, the Ducks’ own offense was stifled by the lack of 5-on-5 time.
“Colorado did a good job of beating us at our own game,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “It was not a good gameplan to play 14 minutes without one less guy on the ice. It disrupts our flow, leaves our best players on the bench and taxes our penalty killers.”
The Ducks allowed only 16 opposing power plays during the entirety of their eight-game win streak, but have had to kill 12 penalties over their last three outings. Anaheim’s penalty-kill unit has been solid throughout, holding opponents scoreless on 25 of those 28 chances.
On the flip side, the Senators have been one of the NHL’s worst at killing penalties. Ottawa has allowed at least one power-play goal in 12 of 17 games.
That weakness hurt the Senators again on Wednesday, as Nick Bonino’s power-play goal with 31 seconds remaining in the second period allowed the San Jose Sharks to tie the score. From there, San Jose scored three unanswered goals in the third period for a 6-3 win over Ottawa.
The Senators, who are also on a three-game losing streak, are 1-8-1 over their last 10 contests.
Wednesday’s result was “definitely a frustrating one,” captain Brady Tkachuk said, especially after Ottawa scored two quick goals to take the lead in that second period.
“We controlled the play pretty well I thought, for the first 40 (minutes),” Tkachuk said. “Whenever you go from down to up … we just wanted to keep rolling. But we just made a couple of mistakes tonight that cost us.”
Tkachuk had a goal and an assist against the Sharks for his second consecutive two-point game.
Matt Murray stopped 23 of 27 shots on Wednesday, dropping to 0-5-0 in six starts. Despite this tough record, Murray might still be the Senators’ best option in net, as Filip Gustavsson and Anton Forsberg have also struggled this season.
John Gibson stopped 31 of 36 shots on Wednesday, with 11 of those saves coming while shorthanded. Gibson has started each of the Ducks’ last eight games and 16 of team’s 20 games this season, but backup Anthony Stolarz would get the call Friday should he need a breather.
Due to an upper-body injury, Adam Henrique made an early departure from the Ducks’ 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Monday. Henrique missed the Colorado game after being sent back to Anaheim for further examination.
–Field Level Media