The Anaheim Ducks were again expected to be a major factor in the Western Conference while chasing a fourth straight division title.
With the NHL’s most inept offense, though, they hardly look the part so far.
Anaheim will try to snap out of its funk Tuesday night when it visits the high-powered Dallas Stars.
The Ducks (1-5-2) are off to their worst start since going 1-5-0 with two ties in 1996-97. That club wasn’t struggling to score goals as much as any club in more than 80 years, however.
Anaheim has only six goals, becoming the first team since the 1930-31 New York Americans to be shut out five times in its first eight games. Seven players league-wide, including Dallas’ Jamie Benn, have scored more goals than the Ducks, who have also tallied only once on 22 power-play chances.
They suffered a second straight shutout loss in Monday’s 1-0 overtime defeat to Chicago, though coach Bruce Boudreau still expressed encouragement after his team registered a season-high 39 shots.
"It was the best game we played all year," he told the team’s official website. "We didn’t get the end result we wanted, but that’s the way we can play. We have to build on that now, and not get disappointed."
Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf nor Ryan Kesler – Anaheim’s top three returning goal scorers – have yet to find the back of the net after combining for 78 goals a season ago. Perry at least generated more chances for himself Monday, recording eight shots after he had 10 in his first seven games.
"They’re getting the chances," Boudreau said. "I don’t think the offensive confidence is there. We had a ton of chances tonight. It was the most chances we’ve had."
Anaheim has not scored in 132 minutes and 45 seconds on the road since Jiri Sekac’s third-period goal in Thursday’s 5-1 loss at Nashville.
Perry has three goals and four assists in his last five visits to Dallas, while Getzlaf has three goals and nine assists in his last seven meetings with the Stars. Kesler is without a goal in 12 consecutive matchups.
Dallas’ stout penalty kill could extend Anaheim’s woes, as it has killed off 20 of 22 penalties thus far.
The Stars (6-2-0) have been more renowned for their offense thus far with 3.4 goals per game, though they scored fewer than three for just the second time in Saturday’s 6-2 loss to Florida, which snapped a five-game winning streak.
Benn gave Dallas a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at the 1:59 mark and added his league-leading eighth goal in the third, but the Stars’ goaltending faltered.
Coming in, Dallas’ .932 save percentage ranked fourth in the NHL. Kari Lehtonen was pulled after allowing three goals on 11 shots, and Antti Niemi fared little better by yielding three on 19 shots.
"It was just mistakes by us," Benn said. "They cost us a couple early goals in the first there, and just overall we didn’t deserve to win."
Lehtonen is 5-2-2 with a 1.54 goals-against average in his last nine starts against Anaheim.
The Stars, who have scored eight times on 27 power plays, have dropped four of the last five home meetings.