The Anaheim Ducks suffered a 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning Sunday afternoon, but that might not be the worst of it. Goaltender Frederik Andersen left the contest midway through the third period after the net fell on him.
It’s not clear if Andersen will end up being sidelined as a result of that potential head injury, but if the Ducks have a nightmare scenario, it’s losing him. Backup Ilya Bryzgalov has a 3.95 GAA and .859 in seven contests this season. Going into 2014-15, John Gibson looked like a viable alternative to Andersen and he might still be, but the 21-year-old has been limited to just 15 games this season (four in the NHL, 11 in the minors).
The Ducks owe their present position atop the Pacific Division standings in large part to Andersen.
Of course, before that happened, the Lightning were having a strong game against him. Tampa Bay ranks first in the NHL in goals per game and they showed again that it’s thanks to their depth rather than just the work of superstar Steven Stamkos. Brian Boyle scored the first goal as well as the marker that would ultimately be the game winner.
Sophomore Nikita Kucherov also netted his 20th goal of the campaign.
With four wins in their last six games, the Lightning have improved to 34-16-5 this season.
There were some out there who wondered if Bryzgalov was getting unfair treatment when he went into the 2014-15 season without an NHL contract. On a night like this, it’s difficult to imagine him playing at the highest level next year.
The San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks came into Thursday’s second period tied 1-1 and then things just fell apart for Bryzgalov & Co. It wasn’t all Bryzgalov’s fault, yet it’s still hard not to focus on him after he gave up six goals on 25 shots.
Some of those tallies were just pretty, like this great bit of puck movement that set up Joe Pavelski’s power-play goal:
Others were just rough to watch, like this Matt Irwin tally:
The Ducks probably wanted Bryzgalov to stick it out, but that was just getting uncomfortable.
Bryzgalov came in with a 1-2-0 record and a lousy .854 save percentage, yet his last start showed some promise. That’s gone away now.
The last two goals allowed were especially rough:
#NHLDucks Bryzgalov: "If I made a couple of saves on some of those goals, it might be different." #ANAvsSJS