ANAHEIM - A Ducks team that was rolling as of a week ago has suddenly fallen into a funk at an inopportune time.
Anaheim followed a fruitful 7-1-1 stretch with a frustrating three-game losing streak, the latest of which was a 4-2 defeat to the visiting St. Louis Blues tonight at Honda Center. The Kings' victory over Vancouver tonight means the Ducks drop out of the top three in the Pacific Division into a tie with Colorado for the second Wild Card spot (though the Avs have two games in hand).
With just 12 games left in the regular season, the Ducks have to take advantage of the next three games on their homestand followed by a crucial four-game trek through Western Canada. They were 7-0-2 in their last nine home games before tonight.
Asked what needs to be done to turn things around, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf replied, "Figure it out mentally. Everything we're doing is mental mistakes. It's not anything to do with physical fatigue. We're working and doing things. We're skating. It's the mental errors that aren't allowing us to continue our success."
Anaheim conjured some hope by getting within a goal at 6:15 of the third period on a Chris Kelly shot that deflected off a screening Derek Grant before beating goalie Jake Allen. It was the ninth goal of the season for Grant and first point for Kelly, who captained Team Canada in this year's OIympics before signing with the Ducks on February 26.
Video: STL@ANA: Grant tips in Kelly's shot in the 3rd
But the Ducks gave it right back on a bad turnover between Kevin Bieksa and Cam Fowler that led directly to a Patrik Berglund snipe from the slot.
That gave the Blues a 4-2 lead they held over the final two minutes after the Ducks sent goalie John Gibson off for an extra attacker.
"There is really no reason for it," Bieksa said. "It's on us, as players. We have to execute with the puck no matter the situation. When you don't execute against a team like that, you get tired and frustrated. That's the result."
After a fast a furious opening 17 minutes yielded no goals, St. Louis broke through when a defensive breakdown left Robert Bortuzzo wide open for a wrister he tucked inside the left post.
The second period got off to a rocky start for the Ducks, who fell behind by two goals just three minutes into the frame on a rebound chip-in for Ivan Barbashev.
Anaheim got right back in it a little more than a minute later on a gorgeous Getzlaf feed through the slot for the easy tap-in by Corey Perry.
Video: STL@ANA: Perry taps in Getzlaf's beautiful pass
The Blues went back in front late in the second on a spinning shot by Vladimir Sobotka that got under a diving John Gibson.
"It's not a frustration with our effort," Getzlaf said. "It's a frustration with the fact that we're having trouble understanding what it takes shift in and shift out every period at this time of year. That's the frustrating part we have to address and make sure we're doing that on a consistent basis."
Anaheim's four-game homestand rolls on Wednesday night vs. Vancouver at Honda Center.