It's been over sixty games since the Anaheim Ducks were humiliated by the Colorado Avalanche in their fourth game of the season and the team has improved remarkably since then, but none of that showed as once again the Ducks dropped a complete stinker of a performance, getting shutout for the ninth time of the season by a similar 3-0 score.
The loss ended both Anaheim's road win streak at six games and their standings-points streak at fourteen games. It was the first time the Ducks lost in regulation since getting blown out 6-2 by the Pittsburgh Penguins back on February 8th.
"We got away from the way we're playing. We gave up more odd-man rushes than we did the last 15 games. We have to play with structure," Coach Bruce Boudreau told the media following the game. Indeed they did as the Ducks allowed a number of 2-on-1s and 3-on-1s throughout the contest as the Avalanche used their foot speed to their advantage.
Despite starting strong and dominating most of the first 10 minutes, the Ducks gave up the first goal when Nathan MacKinnon latched on to an alley-oop pass behind a sleeping Ducks defense which he slapped past Ducks goaltender John Gibson.
Gibson, who suffered his ninth loss of the season, was extremely busy and played well in the loss, including stopping four odd-man rushes in the second period alone. However, he was out-dueled by Avalanche starter Semyon Varlamov, who stopped all 37 shots that were put in his direction.
The Ducks, who have become so defensively stable in the last couple months, were hampered by the loss of Sami Vatanen, who took an elbow to the head in the first period, and did not return to the bench for the start of the 2nd. The Ducks also were fortunate not to lose Simon Despres again as he took a high cross-check in the head from Gabriel Landeskog. Despite staying down for some time, he eventually skated off under his own power and did return.
That 2nd period would once again prove to be the major weakness for the Ducks, who allowed late goals just 2:12 apart to put the game out of reach. The first came by way of Andreas Martinsen and the second from Shawn Matthias.
The power play that was so hot for the month of February also went stone cold, going 0-for-3 on the evening, including a short spell of 5-on-3 that was ultimately fruitless. The Avalanche were likewise held scoreless on two man-advantage opportunities, also including a brief 5-on-3 chance.
To double the pain, the loss costs Anaheim the top spot in the Pacific Division as the Los Angeles Kings steamrolled the Washington Capitals in the first period and then held on despite a roaring comeback to notch the overtime win.
The road trip continues Friday when the Ducks will face the St. Louis Blues. That game starts at 5pm Pacific time.