ANAHEIM—Known for their late-game heroics during the second half of the season, the Ducks ran into a force too powerful to overcome Sunday evening.
Twice, in fact.
The Ducks had two goals disallowed in the closing minutes against the visiting Dallas Stars, the difference in a 4-3 loss at Honda Center that prevented the Ducks from clinching a playoff berth, along with the Kings and Phoenix Coyotes.
That’s a lot of upset fans.
Except in Dallas, of course.
Coupled with the loss by the Chicago Blackhawks, the Stars moved within three points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings with four games remaining for both.
The game appeared headed for overtime after Teemu Selanne deflected Cam Fowler's slap shot into the net with 2:04 remaining, which would have been Selanne’s fifth game-tying goal in the final minutes of regulation since. Feb. 11.
Instead, a referee immediately signaled no goal because Ducks center Saku Koivu had inadvertently clipped Dallas goalkeeper Kari Lehtonen just as Fowler released the shot. The crowd showered the officials with boos, as well as a few other objects, but after reviewing the replay, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle thought it was the right call.
“Saku Koivu’s foot did touch the goalkeeper’s foot,” Carlyle said. “That’s the way [the referee] saw it and he made the call.”
Koivu was not penalized for goalie interference, however. Carlyle said that was because there was no intent on the part of Koivu.
“I just wanted to get in there and fight my way through it and try and screen the goalie,” Koivu said. “Maybe on the way in there I bumped the goalie.”
Carlyle wasn’t so convinced the second disallowed goal shouldn't have counted.
Immediately after Bobby Ryan scored with under a minute remaining, a referee ruled that Corey Perry had made a hand pass to Ryan after catching the deflected puck in the air. Standing to the left of the goal, it appeared Perry set the puck at his feet and it was then deflected or swiped in the direction of Ryan who flicked it over the left shoulder of Lehtonen.
“You can not tell if Corey Perry touched the puck again with his skate,” Carlyle said. “If he didn’t, they made the correct call because the puck went to Bobby Ryan and was basically a hand pass. But if it did touch his skate then it was an incorrect call because the play is alive.”
Perry, who earlier in the game scored his league-leading 47th goal and franchise-record fourth short-handed goal of the season, echoed Carlyle’s opinion, but Ryan had a hard time believing the puck came to him on a hand pass.
“I thought it hit a few things,” he said. “I thought it a stick, some skates beforehand, but obviously [the referee] saw differently. We were both in different vantage points.”
Carlyle decided to give the team the day off Monday and resume practice Tuesday in preparation for their next game, Wednesday against visiting San Jose. Ryan said it’s hard not to feel some nervousness as the team attempts to clinch a playoff berth.
“There’s always anxiety around this time of year,” he said. “That’s essentially a four-point game and puts [the Stars] right back in the mix as well.”