ANAHEIM - In the final game before the All-Star Break, the Ducks looked like they may have taken their respite a little early.
Anaheim showed early hope but were outplayed for most of the night by the visiting Edmonton Oilers in a disheartening 4-0 defeat at Honda Center. The Ducks didn't look much like the team that entered tonight having won nine of their last 12, as they failed to catch San Jose for the lead in the Pacific Division (27-15-9).
"It wasn't like we didn't have anything going," said Ducks center Ryan Kesler, one of the two players representing Anaheim at All-Star Weekend in LA. "Just stupid mistakes. We beat ourselves. We have to forget about this one and move on.
It was Angels Night at Honda Center, in which the sellout crowd of 17,174 was treated to Angels-themed entertainment inside the arena and on social media throughout the evening. The Ducks wore Angels jerseys in warm-ups and Angels players Garrett Richards, Ricky Nolasco, Nick Tropeano and Danny Espinosa and alumni Jim Abbott and Mark Langston took part in a ceremonial puck drop.
There wasn't much to cheer about for the home crowd after that, though the Ducks had a couple of prime scoring chances near the halfway point of the first that were turned away by goalie Cam Talbot (26 saves).
Neither team found the back of the net until Edmonton struck 5:33 into the second frame. After the puck hit a broken stick in the Anaheim end, Kevin Bieksa turned the puck over, leading to an Edmonton give-and-go in which Leon Draisaitl followed up his own rebound.
Edmonton made it a 2-0 game with 2:05 left in the second when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins buried a shot from the slot off a Milan Lucic drop pass.
"They had a higher rate of completing passes and creating scoring chances than we did," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "We didn't play well with the puck. We haven't done that in a while. We hit some posts and had a couple of open nets. The chances we got after two periods, most of them we didn't have much of a net presence. We were one and done."
Things got worse with just 15.5 seconds left in the period when another Ducks giveaway led to Zack Kassian stick-handling around Sami Vatanen and depositing the backhand top corner.
Edmonton effectively put the game away just a minute and a half into the third when Draisaitl one-timed a touch pass from former Duck Patrick Maroon under goalie John Gibson to make it 4-0.
"We were sloppy with the puck," said defenseman Cam Fowler, the other player representing the Ducks in All-Star Weekend at Staples Center in LA. "Everybody was a victim of that. We gave them opportunities to score and we left our goaltender out to dry. Most of their chances were created by us with a lack of execution. Sloppy game overall."
After the break, the Ducks are back at it Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche at Honda Center.
"We can go on with what-ifs all night, but at the end of the day, we beat ourselves," Kesler said. "We have ourselves to blame for this one tonight. You go home and forget about it. We're professionals. You enjoy the break and come back hungry."