Second-period struggles haunt Ducks once again in loss to Pens
This season is starting to feel like deja vu.
The Anaheim Ducks gave up three goals in the second period, ultimately building too much of a hole to climb out of in a 5-2 loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night at the Honda Center.
These second-period struggles have been a common occurrence and the reason for more than one loss. This season, the Ducks have given up 80 goals in the second period, having been outscored by 15.
As the team heads into the home stretch, the trend is becoming alarming.
"If I had an answer I would correct it," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "If you look at last year, the first period was bad and we were great in the second period. It happens, and it gets in your head and surviving the second period seems to be what we have to do if we want to win games."
Goaltender Frederik Andersen has seen a pattern develop from his vantage point: Give up one goal and fall apart after that.
"I don't know if it's the long change or anything like that, but we've got to keep our game plan every time, even if they score," he said. "We've got to get back into it. We've been doing (this) a lot of times: We have a good game going and they score a goal and we kind of just stop playing and we've got to fix that.,"
Anaheim begins to press after allowing that first; they play desperate in the wrong way.
"We're getting too cute," winger Emerson Etem said. "(It's) when we're not at the red line and getting pucks deep off their D. I thought early in the game and then again in the third, we got after their D, we were finishing our checks, creating loose turnovers and second chances. We have to do more of that and we shouldn't have those problems."
Much like tonight, this pattern includes a third-period resurgence. Thomas Fleischmann and Corey Perry cut the deficit to just two before Sidney Crosby scored on the empty net.
But it's a lot easier to protect a third-period lead than chase one.
"We were down 3-0 after two," Boudreau said. "And that's a tough team to come back on."
A bad second period earned the Ducks exactly zero points Friday night and, while they still own the league lead with 91 points, it's not a comfortable lead and not one they're looking to blow.
"We've talked about it," Etem said. "It's something that we're going to have to work on. We've watched video from the first and third and looked at how it's different in the second. It's definitely something we'll talk about more."
The second-period goal differential and the power play are the two glaring weaknesses on a team that is otherwise built like a Stanley Cup contender.