Nothing to see here as ducks are hidden by opportunistic islanders – Press Enterprise

ANAHEIM — Reality slapped the ducks in the face Sunday at the Honda Center. The games are tighter at the time of the season, there’s more at stake, teams are digging in and playing more defensively and with more desperation, and that was evident from start to finish in the 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders.

The Ducks had their chances but couldn’t convert them into goals. On the rare occasions they applied sustained pressure, they couldn’t beat the Islanders’ multifaceted defense or goaltender Ilya Sorokin, who made 34 saves for his fifth shutout of the season.

Not only did the Ducks overtake the Islanders with a healthy 34-22, they had more tries aimed at the opposing net 63-44. New York blocked 20 shots and the Ducks had another nine that missed the target. It added up to the Ducks’ second lackluster loss in a row.

“Frustration is kind of a useless feeling, I think, on and off the ice,” said Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler. “Sure, we’re disappointed. Especially after the LA game we wanted to get out there (Sunday) and get our mojo back on the home ice. … I don’t think frustration will do us very good at the moment.

“We had to keep sticking together. There’s still a lot of hockey left.”

The Ducks are 2-5-0 since the All-Star break and 25-21-9 overall, fifth in the Pacific Division and out of a playoff position.

Like their 4-1 loss to the Kings on Friday, the Ducks chased the game from the first half and never caught up. Like the Kings, the Islanders played a solid, albeit unspectacular game, benefiting from the Ducks’ numerous missteps with and especially without the puck.

A poor line change in the opening minutes of the second period was the Ducks’ most egregious error, leading to a goal by New York’s Casey Cizikas during a delayed penalty for too many men on the ice at 1:33. It wasn’t the first time this season that the Ducks paid the price for a bad move.

“It was a problem,” said Ducks coach Dallas Eakins.

Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson gave New York a 1-0 lead with an outside shot that sailed through traffic and past Stolarz. The Ducks overtook the Islanders 12-7 in the first period and 21-14 in two periods, but they failed to score.

Andy Greene sealed it for New York with a goal at 11:43 of the last period. Kieffer Bellows then made it 4-0 and sent the Ducks fans to the exits with just over five minutes of play. Sorokin kept turning the Ducks away, aided by a healthy four-goal lead.

“We don’t sneak up on anyone anymore,” Eakins said. “You know exactly where our offense lies. It’s up to a handful of guys. I think ‘Z’ is getting a lot of attention out there now. They play very closely with him and do everything they can to get him out of the game.”

Eakins nicknamed rookie center Trevor Zegras.

Ducks goaltender John Gibson sat out with an illness the team said was unrelated to COVID-19. Anthony Stolarz replaced him with 18 saves in his 18th game of the season, and Lukas Dostal was recalled from the AHL by the San Diego Gulls to serve as a backup.

“He had a rough night,” Eakins said when asked about Gibson’s illness.


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