Ducks comeback falls short in 3-2 loss to Canucks

Zellweger, McTavish score in third period to tie the game 2-2, but Dakota Joshua's late goal wins it for Vancouver.

VANCOUVER — Through two periods of Sunday’s Easter matinee between the Anaheim Ducks and the Vancouver Canucks, things went how they’ve been going for the Ducks lately. They worked hard. They took penalties. They surrendered power play goals. They fell behind.

But trailing 2-0 at the beginning of the third period to the leaders of their division, the Ducks found something. Perhaps it was their pride. Maybe it was a simple decision to fight harder. Whatever it was, it jolted Anaheim from its recent doldrums and energized a spirited comeback attempt. Ultimately, Dakota Joshua’s second goal of the game with 2:13 to play lifted the Canucks to a 3-2 win.

The Ducks are now 0-4 on their five-game roadtrip, which concludes Tuesday in Calgary. They have lost their last five games and 12 of their last 13. There are seven games remaining in the season.

Anaheim’s third-period revolt began with rookie defenseman Olen Zellweger’s first NHL goal. Standing along the sidewall with the puck on his stick, Zellweger saw no viable passing options. He fired a wrist shot that zipped right through a small crease over the goaltender’s right shoulder, cutting Vancouver’s lead in half.

Just 1:11 later, Anaheim’s Gustav Lindstrom attempted a wraparound goal that was stopped, but the rebound landed in front of Mason McTavish, who saw an opportunity to snap a goal drought sitting before him and happily slapped it home to tie the game, 2-2.

The Ducks had an opportunity to pull off the upset when they were granted a power play with just 5:51 to play. But Vancouver rather easily sniffed out Anaheim’s propensity for attempting cross-ice passes on zone entries. Most pass attempts were deflected and the Ducks’ power play never gained any semblance of coordinated play with the man advantage. Joshua’s game-winner came just two and a half minutes later.

Cutter Gauthier watch

On the opposite end of North America, a different hockey game also captured the attention of the Ducks. Future Duck Cutter Gauthier and his Boston College Eagles were taking on Quinnipiac in an NCAA regional final game in Providence, RI. The Eagles were losing for much of the game despite some brilliant assists by Gauthier, including the primary assist on the game-tying goal with 4:44 to play. The prospect of a Boston College loss would seem to expedite Gauthier’s arrival in Anaheim.

Unfortunately for the Ducks, Boston College’s Jack Malone scored just under six minutes into overtime, sending the Eagles to the Frozen Four. Gauthier’s Ducks debut will have to wait while the player pursues a national championship with his team.

The Ducks started Sunday’s game with a ferocious defensive effort, grinding along the walls and below the goal line to fish out pucks and clear their zone. Their offensive chances were limited by that approach, but the momentary victory of keeping the Canucks off the scoreboard was just as welcome.

Ben Meyers took a delay of game panalty when he retreived a puck in the corner and accidentally floated his clearing pass into the crowd. The resulting Canucks power play was mostly uneventful, with the notable exception of Lukas Dostal diving onto a loose rebound after a scrum in front of his net. But with just :04 seconds left in the man advantage, Brock Boeser backhanded home a rebound for his 38th goal of the season. And Anaheim’s familiar nemesis—penalties— haunted them yet again.

Joshua scored his first goal, a power play tally, at 10:26 of second period, and boy, was it fancy. Joshua put his stick between his legs and lofted the puck over Dostal to make it 2-0 Vancouver. Joshua, a big, skilled forward, will be a free agent after this season.