The Anaheim Ducks’ three-game winless streak has them out of the top spot in the Western Conference, and they aren’t hiding the fact that they’re keeping a close eye on the standings.
They should have a good chance to get back on track Wednesday night when they begin a three-game road stretch against the Calgary Flames, one of the opponents that has contributed to the Ducks’ Pacific Division dominance.
After Monday’s 3-1 home loss to Toronto, Anaheim (43-15-7) wasn’t passing the 0-1-2 stretch off as an expected part of an 82-game season.
"We are very aware," defenseman Ben Lovejoy told the league’s official website. "We know exactly where we stand. We do need to play better. Our goal is to be No. 1 in the entire NHL. Tonight, we didn’t play like a team with that goal."
The Ducks had picked up at least a point in five straight, but that hasn’t been enough to hold off streaking St. Louis. San Jose has also closed the gap for the top spot in the Pacific.
"We’re in a funk," said coach Bruce Boudreau, whose team now gets a chance to improve on its 15-1-2 record against Pacific foes. "And we’ve just got to get out of it before too long, and do what we do. We’ve just got to get back on our horse."
While the result wasn’t what they wanted against Toronto, the effort wasn’t quite as easy to fault. The Ducks outshot the Maple Leafs 44-23, including 35-12 in the final two periods. They’ve outshot their opponents 117-71 in the last three games and don’t have a win to show for it, which has them emphasizing blue-collar work in front of the net.
"We should have had more guys in front to make screens, tips, and get in the dirty areas," defenseman Francois Beauchemin said. "Right now we’re struggling to score goals because we’re not going to the front of the net and winning those battles and getting those tough goals."
The one they did get past Jonathan Bernier came from the stick of Corey Perry, who has five goals and an assist in his last four games.
After a game off against the Maple Leafs, the Ducks figure to have Jonas Hiller back in goal against the Flames (25-33-7). He’s 2-2-2 with a 1.63 goals-against average since the start of February.
Calgary’s 3-2 home loss to Los Angeles on Monday was its second straight defeat but just its second in nine home games after losing seven straight at the Saddledome from Dec. 27-Jan. 16.
Michael Cammalleri and Brian McGrattan each scored in the last five minutes, which left the Flames wondering where the effort was before crunch time.
"The way we played the last 7-8 minutes of the game, if we had played the whole game like that, the outcome might have been different," said McGrattan, who has goals in back-to-back games after 29 scoreless contests. "We hung around the whole game. We came on at the end."
Rookie Joni Ortio played for the fifth time in Calgary’s seven games back from the Olympic break. He’s 2-3-0 with a 2.24 GAA while starter Karri Ramo continues to miss time with a knee injury.
The Flames’ injury issues continued to grow against the Kings with center Markus Grandlund and defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon both leaving with upper-body injuries.
Anaheim, meanwhile, is getting healthier with center Mathieu Perreault expected to return after missing four games with an upper-body injury.
The Ducks have won both meetings with the Flames this season at home, but they’re 1-2-1 in their last four visits to Calgary.