Ducks take on Panthers Thursday night
A four-game win streak to open November gave off the impression that the Anaheim Ducks had started moving past an ugly start to the season.
Four losses in five games since have somewhat dulled that sentiment for the Ducks, whose next opponent is feeling good following a home-and-home sweep of its in-state rival.
Anaheim plays its third on a four-game Eastern trip Thursday night against a Florida Panthers team that has won three of four.
The Ducks (6-9-4) were outscored 26-10 during a 1-7-2 start before putting in 12 goals to win their next four games. However, a three-game home skid followed - though Anaheim did pick up a pair of points with two overtime losses - leading into this trip.
The club got off to a strong start with Monday's 4-1 win at Carolina and its second straight road victory after dropping its first six, but Anaheim couldn't get much past Pekka Rinne the next night despite a season-high 40 shots in a 3-2 loss at Nashville.
Frederik Andersen gave up each goal on 10 shots and was replaced in the second period by Anton Khudobin, who stopped all 11 he faced. Anderson fell to 0-1-2 in his last three starts with a 4.44 goals-against average.
He has twice allowed four goals on less than 30 shots during his three-start slump, and it's anyone's guess as to who will start against Florida (8-7-3) after coach Bruce Boudreau expressed some displeasure with how Andersen carried himself on the ice.
"I didn't think he was very sharp, it's as simple as that," Boudreau said. "The body language on his third goal wasn't very good at all. We were still in the position, I thought, to win the game. We were playing like we could win the game."
Rickard Rakell and Mike Santorelli, who spent two-plus seasons with the Panthers from 2010-2012, scored Tuesday for the Ducks, but the team went 0 for 5 on the power play after converting three times over its previous nine opportunities with the man advantage.
"At the end of the day, we have to get pucks in," center Andrew Cogliano said. "Rinne played good, we give him that, but we lost the game, so it doesn't really matter."
Anaheim is 7-4-0 in its last 11 meetings with Florida, though the Ducks have lost on their last two trips to Sunrise, including a 6-2 defeat in the most recent visit Feb. 10.
Roberto Luongo had 31 saves in that contest and enters this one coming off his first shutout of the season and 69th of his career. He stopped 39 shots Monday in a 1-0 home victory over Tampa Bay to bounce back after giving up four goals on 28 shots in Saturday's 5-4 shootout win against the Lightning.
Luongo, who tied Glenn Hall for eighth all-time with 407 wins, was 2-3-1 with a 3.14 GAA in six starts prior to the shutout.
"It was better," Luongo told the club's official website. "I haven't been too happy with the way I've been playing the last few games, so it's nice to give the boys a good performance after they bailed me out on Saturday there."
Aaron Ekblad got the lone goal on a deflection off the skate of defenseman Victor Hedman which went over the shoulder of goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and into the net.
"Lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky. Good screens in front and just lucky - can't say anything else," said Ekblad, who has three goals in four games.