Ducks’ rally falls short as Flames spoil Jakob Silfverberg’s home farewell

ANAHEIM — Jakob Silfverberg’s last home game as a Duck was also Sam Colangelo’s first, and they skated on a line together in the final 60 minutes of the season at Honda Center, where Calgary prevailed, 6-3.

All sentimentality and fanfare receded quickly as the result of a quick start from the Flames, who struck twice in each of the first two periods. The juxtaposition of a soon-to-retire mainstay and a recent college graduate making his NHL debut got overshadowed by an even more stark contrast, that of the Ducks’ first 40 minutes Friday to their final 20, in which they nearly erased a four-goal deficit with three unanswered goals.

Between the Flames’ goals by Andrew Mangiapane (5:54) and leading scorer Nazem Kadri (11:53), there was a video salute and spirited ovation for Silfverberg, complete with a chorus of “Ohh, ahh, Silfverberg” from those on hand for fan appreciation night. The longtime Ducks forward announced his impending retirement this week after a 12-year NHL career.

John Gibson stopped 21 shots in the final home game of the sixth consecutive non-playoff season for the Ducks, who have lost 15 of 18. They finished with just 12 home victories this season, fewer than every team except NHL-worst San Jose with 11.

Andrei Kuzmenko scored three goals for the Flames, and Kadri added a goal and two assists.

Mangiapane scored his first goal in 11 games, and shorthanded at that. He got on top of Leo Carlsson on the forecheck and lifted Carlsson’s stick to create a turnover that was scooped up by Yegor Sharangovich, who dished to the trailing Brayden Pachal, who found Mangiapane at the back post to finish what he started.

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Kadri tallied despite being the only Flame amid four Ducks after a failed poke check by Trevor Zegras at the defensive blue line. Kadri eased ahead, burned Jackson LaCombe with a cut inside and then snapped a shot past Gibson.

Late in the frame, Daniil Miromanov stumbled in front of Wolf, giving Zegras an opportunity to swoop in for a point-blank shot that was swallowed by Dustin Wolf, who had 19 saves Friday. Zegras created a strong opportunity at the end of the second period as well, setting up Brett Leason for a shot during a 2-on-1 rush that barely pushed the Ducks shot total to double digits.

Calgary extended its lead 5:43 into the middle frame, completing its variety pack of goals with a power-play marker. Andrei Kuzmenko received the puck at the left post and glided across the goal crease to stuff the puck past Gibson, a marker assisted by Kadri and MacKenzie Weegar. The play was challenged for goaltender interference but the goal stood, sending the Ducks back to the power play for their unsuccessful appeal.

The Flames singed the Ducks a fourth time with 1:32 left in the frame. Dryden Hunt received a stretch pass at the red line, where his pass sent Connor Zary ahead with speed. Zary beat Alex Killorn off the left-wing wall to start a give-and-go play with Jonathan Huberdeau, which concluded with Zary lifting a backhand shot up over Gibson’s shoulder from in tight.

At the 2:54 mark of the third period, the Ducks gave the fans something to appreciate with Colangelo’s first career goal, and then again at 6:13 with a spectacular dish from Zegras to Frank Vatrano.

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Isac Lundeström won an offensive-zone faceoff and then tipped a Radko Gudas point shot. With the puck teetering in front of the goal line, Colangelo pushed it home for the first glorious moment of his pro career.

Then, Zegras got the puck from LaCombe, moving behind the net to his right and looking in that direction before making a no-look backhand pass to Vatrano for a tap-in tally, his team-best 34th of 2023-24.

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The Ducks would trim their deficit to one with 12:59 to play. Troy Terry covered ground from the interior of one blue line to the other, dropping a pass for Cam Fowler, who dished to Olen Zellweger. The rookie defenseman took it from there, skating silkily to the top of the left circle and letting fly with a snapshot for his second career goal.

The influx of emotion proved ephemeral as with 5:38 remaining the Flames scored for the second time with the man advantage. Kadri and Huberdeau each snagged their second assist and Kuzmenko’s second goal of the game effectively decided its outcome with a shot from the slot.

With 2:41 showing on the clock, Kuzmenko completed his hat trick, the second of his career, with both coming against the Ducks. He followed up to pop home Martin Pospisil’s rebound, and Weegar earned his second assist of the evening.

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More to come on this story.

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