Ducks can’t beat Canadiens on Thanksgiving Eve, drop fourth straight

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Ducks dropped their fourth consecutive game on Wednesday night against the Canadiens.

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Both the Ducks and Canadiens came into their Wednesday night matchup looking to snap losing streaks, Anaheim on a three-game skid while Montreal had lost four in a row.

Early deficits continue to be a theme for the Ducks, as they found themselves down 2-0 after the first period after Montreal scored twice in less than a minute. An Ilya Lyubushkin penalty for playing without a helmet and a turnover in the neutral zone with no defensive cover allowed Alex Newhook and Kaiden Guhle to find the back of the net.

“I was confused about the penalty,” said Ducks head coach Greg Cronin. “I don’t know the spirit of the rule. It had no consequence whatever to the game of taking away a scoring chance, but it’s a tough way to start the game.”

“We need to find ways to get off to better starts so that we don’t rely on that comeback mentality in the third period,” said Cam Fowler. “It’s nice that (that mentality is) there, we continue to fight. But it’s hard to sustain that throughout the course of a year, so we have to find ways to build leads and get off to better starts.”

Nov 22, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Montreal Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher (11) and Anaheim Ducks defenseman Radko Gudas (7) battle for the puck in the first period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Anaheim had more jump to start the second, with Mason McTavish drawing a holding penalty less than a minute into the period and then scoring on the ensuing power play just a few seconds later. It’s the second consecutive game with a goal for McTavish, who added a second goal five minutes later. A clearing attempt from Tristan Luneau was hunted down by Frank Vatrano, who peeled back and fed McTavish in front. It was the first NHL point for Luneau, who grew up watching the Canadiens.

“I thought (Luneau) was good,” said Cronin. “He was jittery at the beginning but you could see at the end of the game, (assistant coach Brent Thompson) played him, he was out there almost every other shift. He can skate, he carries the puck well and he honestly had an opportunity to put the game-winning goal on there, the goalie made a pad save on it. He was great.”

The Ducks were able to tie the game midway into the third period after Mike Matheson had put Montreal up by one prior to McTavish’s second goal. McTavish would register his third point of the night on Vatrano’s game-tying goal. The latter now has 13 goals in 19 games.

Nov 22, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Anaheim Ducks center Mason McTavish (23) and center Leo Carlsson (91) celebrate after a goal against the Montreal Canadiens in the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Coincidental unsportsmanlike penalties changed the game to 4-on-4 and eventually led to Montreal putting home the game-winning goal with just under five minutes remaining in the third. Pavel Mintyukov left a drop pass for Mason McTavish, but it was sniffed out by Jake Evans. A 2-on-1 rush gave Newhook plenty of time to pick his spot.

“I think it was honestly my fault, I was calling for it,” said McTavish. “It sucks, they go down and make us pay. I liked our third. That’s just the way it goes. There’s a lot of games, can’t get too down on yourself and hopefully get out of this four-game losing streak.”

Ducks head coach Greg Cronin said he liked the energy level of his team tonight more than he did in Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Blues and felt that they had plenty of chances to win the game. The McTavish line was strong once again tonight, but the Ducks need scoring from more than one line and Cronin said as much as well.

“That line was dominant, but we can’t be a one line team. We’re relying on one line almost every night and it’s hard to win that way.”

The Ducks will look to get back in the win column on Black Friday with a matinee matchup against the Los Angeles Kings. Puck drop is scheduled for 12:30 PM PST.