ANAHEIM - Remember how fun Anaheim's 6-1 rout of the Nashville Predators was for Ducks fans on Wednesday evening? Imagine the exact opposite of that, and you had tonight's game at Honda Center.
The Ducks, who scored five second period goals in that whitewashing of the Preds two nights ago, were themselves victims of a scoring blitz in a 4-0 defeat to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Anaheim gave up a jarring four goals in a span of less than four minutes in the first period and never recovered in dropping their first home game of the young season.
It was the first shutout suffered by the Ducks this season and halted a four-game points streak in which they went 3-0-1.
"We didn't play our best hockey in the first period. Not a whole lot of excuses for it," said Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa. "We realized they played last night and we tried to jump on them in a hurry. After that, we had a couple of breakdowns. Ultimately, the first period was our demise. We didn't play good the entire game."
Anaheim regained the services of captain Ryan Getzlaf (who missed the Nashville game with an injury) in this contest, and all fans in attendance received Getzlaf bobbleheads, one of the few positives for the Ducks faithful on this night.
"We came out flat," Getzlaf said. "The energy wasn't there and we weren't skating. We weren't doing the things that we'd like to do. It showed. We didn't accomplish anything tonight."
During a sluggish start, the Ducks gave up the game's first goal midway through the first period when the puck squirted out from a crowd just outside the crease and Sam Gagner punched it through for his first of the year.
"The first goal was just the start of the snowball," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle lamented. "We got outworked in all three zones. We got outplayed by a hungrier hockey club tonight. We were nowhere near NHL-caliber playing in our performance tonight."
Columbus made it 2-0 just 21 seconds later when Brandon Saad connected with a wrist shot from the slot that took a quick replay review to confirm it went over the stripe after striking the post.
A defensive breakdown on the rush led to Columbus' third goal, as Saad was left wide open on the right wing and batted in his own rebound off goalie John Gibson.
"Just a lot of breakdowns," Bieksa said. "We couldn't seem to find our composure. Mistakes happen in a game. You can't turn them into two or three or four. We didn't make plays or execute. Just wasn't a good game all around."
Things really started to unravel a couple minutes later when Gagner got his second of the game, knocking in his own rebound on the power play to make it 4-0.
That was more than enough for the Jackets, and neither team lit the lamp in the second and third periods.
"They outworked us," Carlyle said. "They competed a lot harder than we did in the small areas. The difference in the hockey game was that they wanted it more than we did. You can't defend that effort."
The Ducks (3-4-2) will look to bounce back Tuesday night in LA against the Kings, the first of five matchups this season between the SoCal rivals.
"We have a few days where we can get good practices," Bieksa said. "We can catch our breath a little bit because we've been traveling quite a bit. We'll regroup and get ready for LA."