Despite a frantic comeback attempt in the closing minutes of regulation, the Ducks couldn't find the equalizer in a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on Friday.
A penalty-killing unit that had been so good over the past nine games, killing 25 consecutive opportunities, surrendered two power-play goals in the third period of the club's second defeat in as many nights. Ryan Miller turned aside 35 saves in the loss, which kept the Ducks at 80 points, while pushing the Stars to 82 points on the season.
"Hurts having those two penalty-kill goals, but it's one of those things where we need to be a little bit smarter," said defenseman Brandon Montour. "Couple plays kind of hurt us. We got the tough end."
Ryan Getzlaf scored the lone goal for the Ducks, who held a 1-0 lead until the 8:50 mark of the third period.
While the Ducks still hold onto third place in the Pacific Division, they have now played two more games than San Jose (second place, 81 points) and LA (second wild card, 79 points). Both teams have played 67 games. The Flames, who defeated the Ottawa Senators earlier today, sit two points behind the Ducks with 69 games played.
"Every game matters," said Montour. "We don't have any excuses anymore. Everybody is tight. We need those wins."
Devin Shore and Jamie Benn scored in the third period for Dallas, who now have a three-point cushion on the Kings and a four-point gap on the Colorado Avalanche (and Calgary), two clubs currently on the outside looking in.
After coming out of the gates with plenty of jump, the Ducks struck first at the 17:16 mark of the opening period when Getzlaf buried a snap shot over Kari Lehtonen's right shoulder on a 2-on-1 with Corey Perry. The goal was Getzlaf's 12th point over the course of a five-game point streak (2g/10a). An assist gave Perry eight points (2g/6a) in his last six games, while the secondary assist gave Rickard Rakell 11 points (8g/3a) over a six-game point streak.
Video: ANA@DAL: Getzlaf picks the corner with wrist shot
Dallas nearly tied it late in the second period if not for a spectacular save by the veteran Ducks netminder. After making an initial stop on John Klingberg's shot from the right faceoff dot, Miller somehow kept Tyler Seguin's rebound opportunity from crossing the stripe. The puck went into the air and bounced off his shoulder before hitting the crossbar and rolling off Miller's back.
Video: ANA@DAL: Miller makes pair of strong saves
Miller came up with another beauty when he nullified Jason Spezza's jam attempt in the crease. With his back turned to Spezza (Miller was playing the carom behind the net), he had the presence of mind to fall backward onto the puck, forcing a whistle.
The Stars evened up the score with 11:10 remaining in regulation when Shore redirected Seguin's shot on the power play.
Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle was forced the shuffle the deck on defense when Josh Manson went to the dressing room after he appeared to catch the heel of Remi Elie's skate up high with 10:04 remaining in regulation. Manson was able to skate off the ice under his own power clutching a towel to his face. Manson returned to the bench in the late stages of regulation sporting a welt under his right eye.
The Stars took their first lead of the game with 5:37 remaining in regulation when Benn got a tip on Klingberg's point shot for the club's second power-play goal of the game. The go-ahead goal came just moments after Cam Fowler's shot hit the post prior to the penalty.
The Ducks earned a power play with 21 seconds left on the clock, but couldn't solve Lehtonen.
Anaheim won't play again until Monday when it hosts the St. Louis Blues in the opener of a four-game homestand.