(Reuters) - The Anaheim Ducks will spend another summer reliving the agony of a Game Seven defeat that crushed their National Hockey League Stanley Cup dreams.
For the third season in a row, the Ducks not only suffered a Game Seven loss at home but again squandered a 3-2 series lead.
This time it was a 5-3 beating by the Chicago Blackhawks in Saturday’s climax of the Western Conference Finals and there was little solace in the fact that in each season the Ducks advanced a round further.
“We got four months,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said about the wait for their next campaign.
“I‘m not going to lie, it’s going to hurt for a while. We truly believe that we’re a different team and we had a really good chance of winning five more games.” Last year, Anaheim’s season ended with a 6-2 loss in the final game of their second-round series against the rival Los Angeles Kings. In 2013, the Ducks exited in the first round after a 3-2 defeat to the Detroit Red Wings.
“(We) didn’t get it done,“ said Boudreau. ”We’ll have to live with that for the summer.” Chicago, meanwhile, advanced to their third Stanley Cup championship series in six years, with Game One against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Florida on Wednesday.
Two key factors in Anaheim’s final two losses was the superior play by Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who scored twice on Saturday, compared to Ducks counterpart Ryan Getzlaf, and the struggles of Anaheim goalie Frederik Anderson. Anderson’s save percentage over the final three games was a dismal .829.
Getzlaf had an assist on Saturday but did not score a goal and has a combined plus-minus rating of minus-eight in the final two games of his last three playoffs.
“I didn’t play good enough to win,” Getzlaf said.
Boudreau refused to be critical of his captain when asked if he was outplayed by Toews.
“You’re looking for me to say one guy is better than another guy. That’s not the case,” said Boudreau, now 0-for-6 at home in Game Sevens, dating back to his time with the Washington Capitals.
“All I know is Ryan Getzlaf played very hard, and he is a great captain. He’s the first one that’s going to be wishing that things had turned out different ... he played his ass off or his heart out -- however you want to put it.”
Reporting by Tim Wharnsby in Toronto; Editing by Larry Fine