For a team who had one of the top-scoring offenses last season, scoring goals has suddenly become an exercise in futility.
Sunday night at the Honda Center, both teams wanted and badly needed a win. The Anaheim Ducks were coming off of two-straight overtime losses, marred in a scoring drought and shorthanded with a slew of top players out with either the flu or injury.
The Canucks were eager to prove that they’re not the same team they were last season and even more eager to shake off a 5-1 loss to the Kings the night before.
Not to mention, the underlying storyline of Ryan Kesler facing his former Vancouver team and the players he was traded for, Nick Bonino and Luca Sbisa, facing theirs.
Both teams beat each other up until a shootout, when former Duck Bonino squeaked one underneath the pad of Frederik Andersen and former Canuck Kesler hit the crossbar to end the game and the Ducks lost a second-straight in a shootout.
"Another shootout loss," an exasperated Kesler said. "I’m not big on shootouts, guys. Obviously, they’re important points but I thought we fought hard. But another shootout loss."
Boudreau said the two post shots in the shootout was indicative of the team's offensive struggles over the last few games. #VANvsANA
The dearth of scoring is reaching uncharacteristic levels. The Ducks managed only a single goal and it was only the third time this season they’ve scored one or fewer. No one pinned the blame on the absence of Corey Perry, the league-leader in goals with 11, or the absences of the trio of defensemen that are currently sitting out.
It’s just simply a slump.
"That’s just the way our goal scoring is going," said head coach Bruce Boudreau. "Were missing by a tad here and a tad there. It wasn’t like they nicked goal posts, they hit them dead on. Those are the breaks of the game."
Nothing was breaking in the direction of Anaheim. The Ducks had 29 shots on goal but managed to connect on only one. It’s been a theme over the last two weeks.
"I don’t think we’re frustrated," Kesler said. "I think once our chances dry up and we’re not getting, then frustration happens and panic sets in. We’re playing the right way, we’re just not playing for a full sixty. It happened against Phoenix and it happened against this team. You let your foot off the gas pedal for a period of time and you let them back in."
While Kesler might not be frustrated, others have seen their level steadily rise as the ability to score goals suddenly eludes them.
"We’re having chances and the guys are getting good looks, there’s good offense that’s being generated but for whatever reason, pucks aren’t going in the net or guys are just not scoring, for whatever reason, and that’s more frustrating than people think," said forward Andrew Cogliano. "It’s not going to come by hoping or sitting back, you’ve got to go in and get it."
"The only thing you can do is persevere and do things that you don’t normally do," said head Boudreau said. "Go to the net and take a puck off the butt or off a leg and it’s usually those ones that jumpstarts you."
Cogliano on the lack of goals: "It's more frustrating than people know. The guys putting the most pressure on themselves are in this room."
Still in first place in the Western Conference with 22 points, the Ducks now find themselves trying to fend off the Canucks (21 points) as they head into a crucial week that features two Freeway Faceoff games and Pacific Division points on the line.
"I thought we beat them last year, pretty handily, in some games and this was a big road trip for them," Cogliano said. "I think coming to California, they wanted to win just to show that they can compete with the three teams out here and they can. Tonight, they were much improved from when we played them last year."