Like Staples Center, Honda Center in Anaheim isn’t known for its pristine ice surface. Unlike Staples Center, bounces and caroms off stanchions and boards are regular occurrences, and already in this series several unexpected deflections have nearly paid dividends for an opportunistic forward or two.
Jake Muzzin appeared to fall victim to the playing surface in Game 5 as he caught an edge while circling deep in his own zone and directly in front of the Zamboni entrance early in the first period.
Though Darryl Sutter recognized that the volatile spot on the ice played a role in the turnover last night, on Tuesday Muzzin owned up to the mistake that started a sequence that was finished with Nick Bonino’s early first period goal.
“It was my fault. I fell and they scored,” he said. “It sucks, but you try to put it behind you and move on. You have a whole game to play. It sucked, though.”
In his postgame comments, Sutter referred to the game’s first goal as “bad luck.”
There were odd deflections, turnovers and interesting looks that resulted in goals for both sides in Game 5. Fewer goals are scored cleanly off rushes and breakaways at this time of the season.
“Well, the goals we scored last night, Lewie had speed through neutral and basically shoots it past Bryan Allen,” Sutter said. “Gabby’s power play goal, Jeff Carter goes to the net with it first. Gabby’s goal in the third, he ends up at the net and Brownie throws it at the net. So that’s how goals are scored, when you look at it. That’s why you just can’t give the easy outs. There can’t be easy outs, and I think both teams have been guilty of that a little bit. That’s the way the game is. You know what? For somebody who doesn’t watch that much and thinks that everybody’s going to play a perfect game – it’s perfect, every game is perfect, like you never lose and you shut ‘em out and you never take a bad penalty or you never fall down – it’s like I told Muzz after the game, ‘Hey, Muzz, that’s got nothing to do with compete. At least you’re the first guy to the puck.’”
It was brought to Sutter’s attention that Corey Perry also fell unexpectedly in Game 5, and looking back at the first two games of the series, there were more unforced spills than one would expect from an NHL playing surface.
“Actually, the guys said yesterday it was better than the previous one after the…Arena Football [game last Sunday],” Sutter said. “The guys were complaining about the ice that day, especially in that corner because that’s where they come out and that’s where the water is, and that’s where they close the door, and that’s the last place where the scoop shovels are at.”
It was certainly the scene of the crime on Monday.
Jake Muzzin, on the team’s preparation for Game 6:
We have to come out with a better effort, obviously. In the first period we were a little sloppy and in the second period we were sloppy as well. We have to come out with a good start and continue building from what we did in the third period there.
Muzzin, on having not played their best game yet:
No, I don’t think we’ve played our best game. We can put a full 60 together and at spurts we’ve been good, but we need to put a full 60 together. If we played our best and do that, we should be ok.
Muzzin, on the team’s streaky play:
I don’t know what it is, to be honest. Whether it’s a good feeling in the room and guys get going and then a little slip up here and there. I know that we face elimination. We have to put another streak together with two games for the series. We’re focusing on the next game and we have to do whatever we can do to win the game.
Muzzin, on having an advantage after having already faced four elimination games:
We looked at in the previous series as we just have to win one game and that’s what we have tomorrow night. We have to go out with the attitude that we have to win one game. Start off, we have to win the first period. Let’s go from there. That’s the attitude we have and we’re going to need everyone with it tomorrow night.
Muzzin, on Anaheim keeping them from playing their best game:
They’re a hard forechecking team. They’re getting pucks in deep and we’ve been a little sloppy in our rush coverage and transition. They’re a tight checking team and it’s given us little problems, but if we can be the best that we can be we should be able to get through that and be alright.
Muzzin, on what they did in the San Jose series that they can do now:
Just being cleaner in the neutral zone and getting pucks behind their D all the way to the goal line. If we don’t get pucks all the way in there, they’re quick up or they’ll limit our time in their zone and it allows them more rush time and getting pucks in our zone. Cleaner, harder plays and maybe keep it a little more simple instead of forcing some plays through the middle or trying to make a cute pass here or there. Get it behind their D and go to work.