Ducks blow early lead in 7-2 loss to Blackhawks

Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
The Ducks lost their third consecutive game, allowing 6 or more scores in each.

The Ducks headed to Chicago looking to shake off a rough loss to the Islanders. They squared off with the Chicago Blackhawks, the last-place team in the central division. Things started off well for Anaheim, as Brett Leason scored his 9th of the season to get the Ducks the early lead. Before the period could finish, Ryan Donato also scored his 9th of the year and got Chicago back even at 1. In the second, Brett Leason once again struck first as his second goal regained a 2-1 lead for Anaheim. However, this is where things would take a turn for the worse. Philipp Kurashev, Seth Jones, and Connor Bedard each cashed in with goals to close out the second and send the Blackhawks to the third with a 4-2 lead. It was more of the same in the final 20 minutes, as three more Chicago goals from MacKenzie Entwistle, Philipp Kurashev, and Tyler Johnson gave the Blackhawks a dominant 7-2 lead. They would cruise to a victory as they stormed back to hand the Ducks their 39th loss of the season.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Gibson struggles, gets ejected in loss

It was a rough day for the Ducks’ goalies, as 7 allowed scores and an ejection summed up their Tuesday night. John Gibson was the one who got the start against Chicago, and he was able to hold his own in the opening 20 minutes. The 1-1 tie game entered the second period, where things began to unravel for the Ducks. Gibson allowed 3 goals in the second and two more in the third period, saving 20 out of 26 total shots in the game. To make matters worse, he was ejected from the contest after crossing the center line to jump into a brawl between the two squads. He even managed to rip off the mask of Blackhawks’ goalie Petr Mrazek.

The brawl exploded about halfway into the third period when Mason McTavish and Jarred Tinordi got into a scuffle. Soon enough, there was a pile behind the goal that saw both teams going at it with no holding back. After things cleared out, Lukas Dostal was forced to come into the game as the replacement goalie. He would also allow a goal on 5 total shots as the Blackhawks finished out the victory. It was not an ideal day for Anaheim or Gibson as the losing streak has now reached 3 games in a row.

Leason scores twice in the loss

While there won’t be many things that the Ducks can take away from Tuesday’s game as a positive thing, perhaps Brett Leason developed some momentum for himself. The 24-year-old currently in the midst of his second year with the Ducks had scored just 8 goals this season prior to his performance against Chicago. Appearing in his 51st game this year, he scored on two occasions to provide the entirety of the attack for Anaheim. His first score was the opening goal of the game as he found the net despite an ongoing power play from the Blackhawks.

His second score once again helped the Ducks regain a 2-1 lead on an impressive fast-break goal, courtesy of a beautiful outlet pass from Urho Vaakanainen. Leason brought himself to 18 points on the season, adding to his career-high mark. He will also surpass his previous record for most games played in a season at 54, assuming that he continues to be a healthy contributor on the ice for the remainder of the year. It was a nice say for Leason despite the lack of team success.

Power plays continue to haunt the Ducks

One of the most prominent weaknesses for the Ducks this season has been their lack of ability to defend the net during power play opportunities. The Blackhawks took full advantage of this, scoring 4 of their 7 goals with the extra man on the floor. Ryan Donato’s first period-score, the second-period score from Seth Jones, and two third-period scores from Philipp Kurashev/Tyler Johnson all came during power plays as Anaheim has now allowed 68 goals during such situations this season. This is the most power-play goals allowed by a team this season and is 11 more than the next closest squad (57-Minnesota Wild). The scoring flurry for Chicago was not a regularity either, as the Blackhawks have scored the 5th-least power play goals of any squad in the NHL this season. It goes to show that the Ducks will need to do a much better job of paying attention to detail and providing intensity if they ever want to clamp down on the defensive side of the puck. For now, they will need to hit the drawing board and figure out how they are going to stop the bleeding effects of a three-game skid.

Up next for the Ducks is the second stop of their four-game road trip, a battle against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. Minnesota is currently 32-27-7 and is 4 points back of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. Anaheim will look to temporarily set them back and get back in the win column.

The game is scheduled to begin at 5:00 p.m. PT.