Ducks send slumping Caps to 4th straight loss, 5-2
(AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Hockey Writer
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Nearly 10 years after Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf won the Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks, they put on a vintage performance to cap a celebratory reunion weekend with those 2007 teammates.
The Washington Capitals took a thrashing, but they're hoping it moves them closer to a championship of their own.
Perry had two goals and an assist, Getzlaf added a goal and two assists, and the Ducks sent the NHL-leading Capitals to their fourth consecutive loss, 5-2 on Sunday night.
Before the game, the Ducks welcomed home nearly all the players who raised California's first Stanley Cup, including captain Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger and Teemu Selanne, in a ceremony to mark the 10-year anniversary of the franchise's only title.
Perry and Getzlaf were young supporting players on that team. Now well-established NHL stars, they responded to their old buddies' presence with a big win for Randy Carlyle, the coach of that championship team and this current bunch.
"To see them all, and then to play the way we did, it's a good feeling for everybody," said Perry, who had just the second multi-goal game of a difficult season. "It's definitely a motivation after you go out to dinner with them the night before."
Ryan Kesler also had a goal and two assists for the Ducks, who have won three of four to move ahead of the Calgary Flames for second place in the Pacific Division. Rickard Rakell scored his 29th goal, and Jonathan Bernier made 25 saves.
"The emotions were high out there," Kesler said. "If we play that way, we can play with anyone in this league. I think we know that. We just haven't found a way to stay consistent, and that's what we're striving for."
While the Ducks hit an emotional high, the Caps are heading home on a serious low after a winless California road swing.
John Carlson and Marcus Johansson scored for the Capitals, who are on the longest skid of their outstanding season. Pittsburgh could pass Washington for the Metropolitan Division lead Monday in Calgary.
Alex Ovechkin failed to score a goal in his 10th straight game. That's the longest drought of his 12-season, 907-game NHL career.
"We don't remember the last time we've lost four in a row, and that's a good thing," Ovechkin said. "It's nice it's happening before the playoffs, and not during the playoffs. It's frustrating because the puck won't go in, but we have to work harder and fight through it."
All-Star Braden Holtby stopped 27 shots for the Capitals, who have lost four straight in regulation for the first time since November 2014. Holtby has yielded 12 goals while losing three straight starts.
"We just haven't quite adjusted to everyone else playing playoff hockey quite yet," Holtby said. "That's something we know. We realize in our room that we're going to have to adjust and step up. We're just a little bit behind as a group, and that's something we know we're capable of fixing in here, stepping up, ramping it up. I think it's a good eye-opener, a good wakeup call that this is a playoff run now."
Washington was without defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who served the first game of his two-game suspension for charging Los Angeles' Kevin Gravel on Saturday night. Nate Schmidt played for just the second time since the Caps acquired Shattenkirk from St. Louis last month.
After a scoreless first period, Perry collected a turnover by Lars Eller and beat Holtby for his 13th goal. The 2011 NHL MVP scored again 4 1/2 minutes later, artfully tipping Kesler's shot.
Rakell put the Ducks up 3-0 just 28 seconds later, beating Holtby for his seventh goal in eight games. Rakell even has two more goals than Ovechkin, the NHL's six-time Richard Trophy winner and its top goal-scorer in each of the past four seasons.
Rakell has played 10 fewer games than the Capitals' Russian superstar, who hasn't scored an even-strength goal in 18 games - another career worst. Ovechkin had nine-game goal droughts in late 2008 and late 2010, but had never gone 10 games without a goal.
"Ovi is skating," Washington coach Barry Trotz said. "There will be a lot made of him not scoring lately, but he's skating and maybe playing better than he has in long stretches where he was scoring this year. He's pretty dangerous."
NOTES: Carlyle earned his 400th career victory, becoming the 36th NHL coach to hit the mark. ... Kesler secured his ninth 20-goal season in the last 10 years, including all three of his seasons with the Ducks. ... Anaheim C Antoine Vermette returned from his 10-game suspension for slashing a linesman last month in Minnesota. ... Bernier got the start for Anaheim after John Gibson was ruled out shortly before game time with a lower-body injury. Gibson returned from a six-game injury absence Friday in St. Louis.
Capitals: Host the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.
Ducks: Host the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday.
Updated March 13, 2017