Offensives struggles limit Panthers in 3-2 loss to Ducks

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson made 50 saves on 52 shots, sending the Panthers home with a 3-1 regulation loss. 

In the second game of a back-to-back and just over 24 hours after being shut out by the Los Angeles Kings, the Panthers mustered just one goal against the Ducks as Vincent Trocheck scored on the power play at 15:26 of the second period.

The Panthers’ 53 shots on goal were the most in a game since they unleashed 51 on March 7th, 2016 and the third-most in franchise history.

Trocheck’s team-leading ninth goal of the season got the Panthers to within one after Rikard Rakell gave the Ducks a 2-0 lead 10 minutes earlier.

A failed shorthanded line change by the Panthers turned into a 2-on-1 opportunity before Rakell ripped a cross-ice pass into the net behind Roberto Luongo.

With 1:03 left in the first period, Josh Manson blocked a shot by Jonathan Huberdeau in the Anaheim end and skated in on a breakaway, putting the puck past Luongo to give the Ducks an early 1-0 lead.

Just under three minutes into the second period, Huberdeau nearly tied the game at one when he deflected a Keith Yandle point shot past Gibson, but the tally was overturned after it was determined the puck was touched with a high stick.

Yandle eventually got the Panthers to within one with his third goal of the season at the 17:01 mark of the final frame on a shot from inside the blue line that found its way past a screened Gibson.

After allowing just four goals combined in his last three starts – all of which were wins – Luongo surrendered three to the Ducks on just 28 shots.

The Panthers had chance after chance to tie the game, including six power play opportunities – one of which was a brief 5-on-3 advantage – but they either shot wide, high, or had their scoring attempts stopped by Gibson.

The Ducks scored twice on their four power play chances.

Jared McCann returned to the lineup for the Panthers after missing the last six games and 11 of the last 12 with an injury.

He centered Jamie McGinn and Colton Sceviour on the third line while Nick Bjugstad jumped up to the top line with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau.

Barkov – who had a mini breakaway opportunity robbed by Gibson in the second period – recorded two assists as he and Huberdeau went on to finish the game on a line with Trocheck.

In the end, the Panthers nearly doubled the Ducks in 5v5 scoring chances 30-17 while managing twice as many high-danger shot attempts at 14-7.

“We’re not getting any puck luck right now,” said head coach Bob Boughner. “It’s on us too. We’ve had a few chances on breakaways where we missed the net or blew it over the net on some chances, that’s probably the only negative thing I can say.”

“I thought we executed our game plan pretty well tonight.”

They haven’t been able to cash in on the chances given to them and have seen their few mistakes end up in the back of their net fairly easily.

“It seems to be, we’re running into hot goalies,” said Keith Yandle. “I thought our effort was great, we played hard. It’s never fun losing.”

Their three-game California road-trip reaches its end with a 1-2-0 record, and they’ll now head home to face the high-flying Toronto Maple Leafs for the first time this season on Wednesday.

Game notes:

  • Aaron Ekblad tied a career-high in shots on goal with 9, leading both the Panthers and the Ducks. No other player in the game had more than 6 shots (Barkov, Cogliano).
  • Alex Petrovic sat out as a healthy scratch for the sixth consecutive game and ninth time this season.
  • Radim Vrbata was a scratch after taking a puck to the face during his first shift of Saturday’s game against the Kings.
  • Curtis Valk was returned to Panthers’ AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds, on Sunday morning.
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