ANAHEIM - Having looked practically unbeatable for the last month and a half, the Anaheim Ducks suddenly look very vulnerable and now find themselves in a troubling hole.
Anaheim's 2-1 defeat to the Oilers in Game 2 at Honda Center threw another dart in the Ducks' home ice advantage and put them down 2-0 in a Second Round series that now heads to Edmonton for Games 3 and 4.
The Ducks, who went 15-0-3 since May 12 (including a First Round sweep of the Calgary Flames), remarkably hadn't lost two straight games in regulation since the first two of the season, October 13 and 15.
"That's playoff hockey. Bounces go your way and they don't go your way," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "We have to keep working. We dropped two in our building. We have to go up there and focus on Game 3."
Try as they might tonight, the Ducks couldn't get much past Edmonton goalie Cam Talbot, who saved 39 of 40 Anaheim shots. The Ducks' attempt to tie the game late were thwarted when they had enough trouble possessing the puck long enough to give goalie John Gibson a chance to leave the ice for an extra attacker, and Anaheim didn't threaten in the closing seconds.
"These are hard-fought games," Getzlaf said. "These are both good hockey teams out there battling. I thought tonight was one of our better games we've played in a while. We just need to find a way to get it done."
Down a goal halfway through the third, Anaheim looked like it might have tied it on the power play when a tipped puck by Patrick Eaves slid into the inside of the right post and came out. A few minutes later, a hammered Cam Fowler one-timer loudly rang the crossbar.
Three times before in Anaheim's playoff history after losing Game 1 at home, they also lost Game 2 - last year vs. Nashville, 2014 vs. LA and 2008 vs. Dallas.
This one was worrisome for the Ducks early, as Edmonton went in front just 1:05 into the contest when the puck squirted from behind the net out to Andrej Sekera, who hammered a one-timer from above the left wing circle past Gibson (22 saves).
"We directed a lot of pucks and did a lot of good things, but we got behind the eight ball when they scored on their first shot," Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. "It put us back on our heels a little bit."
The Oilers appeared to make it 2-0 late in the period, but a punch-in goal by Zack Kassian was promptly waved off for goalie interference after Mark Letestu created a collision with Gibson.
Edmonton ultimately did make it a two-goal lead in the second period, late on a power play, when former Ducks winger Patrick Marroon was able to deflect in a floating puck from just outside the crease.
"I thought we played really well," Gibson said nevertheless. "Their goalie played well. They got a couple bounces and we hit a couple posts. That's the way it is. If we get a couple bounces, maybe it goes a different way. That's why you need to win four games."
Anaheim cut into the lead on the power play following a high sticking penalty on Darnell Nurse, as Jakob Silfverberg finally got a puck by Talbot with a wrister from the right wing. Silfverberg had help from an Eaves screen that kept Talbot from seeing the puck most of the way.
Video: EDM@ANA, Gm2: Silfverberg roofs wrister for PPG
"We just have to keep doing what we're doing," Silfverberg said. "We're doing a lot of good things out there today. The last piece is missing and it's correctable. We have to get more bodies in front. [Talbot's] a good goalie, so you have to make sure to push him back into the net and get in front of him. We just need to stay the course."
Indeed, everything else Talbot saw on the night he stopped, as the Ducks will now hope to find a spark north of the border in the next two games of this series.
"The situation is tough," said Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler. "They came in and stole two, but by no means is it impossible. There's a lot of fight in this group."