ANAHEIM -- Call it a trend within a trend.
The Ducks lost for the 10th time in the last 11 games Sunday evening, giving up the first three goals to the visiting Detroit Red Wings before eventually falling, 4-2, at Honda Center.
In nine of the losses, the Ducks allowed the first goal, something that hasn't gone unnoticed by coach Randy Carlyle.
“We’ve had to play catch-up in all of these games,” he said. “We’re not establishing any forecheck, or any physicality early in the hockey game. It takes too long for us to do that. We’re receiving and we’re not on the aggressive side, for whatever reason. I wish I had the answer to it because we’d be correcting it.”
The Red Wings needed just one shot on goal to take a 1-0 lead. A few minutes later, the arena had a power failure that caused the game to be delayed 29 minutes. The Ducks managed to escape the first period without any further damage, but 14 seconds into the second the Red Wings scored again, this time after a pass from Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler was intercepted in the neutral zone, leading to a goal by Johan Franzen.
“I forced it,” Fowler said. “It was a terrible play, not something that I usually try and make. I have to be more patient than that.”
Seven minutes later, Detroit made it 3-0 on a goal by defenseman Brad Stuart.
“The way we’ve been behind in these last few games, you start trying to make up for everything all in one shift and maybe force some plays that you shouldn’t,” Fowler said “To me, it’s more the adjustments that teams are making. We just need to come up the ice as a five-man unit.”
The Ducks cut the deficit t0 3-2 later in the second period on goals by Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne and had momentum heading into the third.
Detroit, which was playing its second road game in two days, helped out by committing two minor penalties in the last 5:46 of regulation but the Ducks were unable to capitalize. For the second consecutive game, they pulled goalie Jonas Hiller for a two-man advantage in the closing minute, but for the second straight game they gave up a short-handed empty-net goal to halt the comeback. This one on a nifty, 140-foot bank shot by Stuart.
“It’s very frustrating and almost the cruel side of sports,” Carlyle said. “We made enough mistakes that cost us the hockey game. There is no other way to describe it. We pretty much gave them the three goals. We again mounted a comeback in the hockey game, but it just seems that we’re one goal short again.”
For a team that won a Stanley Cup title just four years ago, they may have hit a new low point Sunday night.
“It’s a new experience for us here,” said team captain Ryan Getzlaf. “We have to find a way to dig ourselves out of this thing. I thought we came out of the gates okay. We still dug a hole. There is no doubt about that. The score doesn’t lie. At some point during the game, we let ourselves get down and get behind.”
A scenario that's becoming all too familiar this season.