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Pivotal Moment: Horcoff Fails to Kick-Start Ducks

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An early goal from the Ducks could have led to an entirely different outcome in the matchup last night.

Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

There was a lot of talk entering the game about not worrying about the Ducks. Don't worry about their desperation coming into the game as a team with a supremely underachieving 1-4-1 record. Don't worry that they have scored only six goals in those games and are two weeks overdue for a goal explosion from their talented group of forwards. Don't worry that the Wild were the only team that this flightless Ducks squad had managed to beat this year. Don't worry that the Ducks had beaten the Wild in 10 of their last 11 meetings. No, all that meant nothing, the Wild were only going to focus on playing their game for an entire 60 minutes, no worries.

As fans, we were worried. We know how this matchup has gone over the past couple years; the Wild play a really solid game, don't capitalize on key chances, the Ducks get a couple breaks, take advantage, and boom they walk away with a one goal victory. It seemed like all the Ducks needed to ignite in this game against the Wild was a little spark.

The Ducks came out strong in the first couple shifts, controlling play almost the entire time. Hampus Lindholm threw a harmless wrister in on net from the point, the puck dropped down in front of Dubnyk and in the next instant was in the back of the net. It's not that much of a stretch (okay maybe a little) to say that this goal could have been a catalyst in the turnaround of the Ducks season. Get out to an early lead (something they have not been able to do all year), let the positive juices start flowing, and ride that to a pivotal road victory. Take that confidence and positive thinking into the next game and ba da bing ba da boom, President's Trophy. Only one problem for the Ducks..... Yeah, Horcoff kicked it in:

Pretty much the only thing missing on this play was the placeholder as Horcoff split the uprights and went five-hole on Dubnyk.

From this point forward the Wild absolutely speed-bagged the Ducks to the tune of a 53-25 shot attempt advantage through the first two periods. The Wild grabbed a first period lead, and the mentally fragile Ducks simply seemed to fold it up. Even down 3-0 in the third, the Ducks couldn't score-effect their way into any kind of meaningful sustained pressure.

Credit to Mike Yeo's team for doing exactly what they said they would in this game. They put together a solid stretch of play for 60 minutes and looked like the dominant team we all know they can be. Tough to say what could have happened had that Ducks goal been legitimate to start the game, but I for one am glad we didn't have to worry about seeing a confident Anaheim team for the remaining 58 minutes of the game.