ANAHEIM -- The Ducks' hopes for an elusive second straight victory were virtually squelched during a fateful sequence late in tonight's second period.
A Columbus goal followed by a failed Anaheim coach's challenge quickly turned a hard-earned Ducks lead into a one-goal deficit in an eventual 4-3 defeat to the Blue Jackets at Honda Center. Coming off a 5-4 shootout victory Sunday night vs. Nashville, the Ducks were looking for their first back-to-back wins since October 29 and November 1, but instead they suffered a fourth defeat in the last five games.
Anaheim appeared finished after giving up an empty-netter with 1:33 left in the game, but Ondrej Kase got the Ducks within a goal with 43.4 seconds left on a tip from just outside the crease, as Ryan Miller again was on the bench for an extra attacker.
Video: CBJ@ANA: Kase tips shot home for second goal of game
The Ducks sent him off for a third time after that goal, but they couldn't get the puck past rookie goalie Elvis Merzlikins (37 saves).
Much like in their win Sunday night, the Ducks established an early shot advantage at 12-4 midway through the first. They also got an early goal from Sunday night's shootout hero, Ryan Getzlaf, who deftly tipped a Michael Del Zotto point shot through in the opening three minutes.
Video: CBJ@ANA: Getzlaf tips Del Zotto's shot home in front
Columbus got even courtesy of Eric Robinson from the left wing with 8:13 left in the period.
Kase has struggled to find his scoring touch this season, but he showed no signs of that just 24 seconds into the middle frame, swiping the puck from Pierre-Luc Dubois in the Columbus zone and sniping one through from the circle. Kase entered the night with just three goals in 36 games but tallied twice tonight in the losing effort.
Video: CBJ@ANA: Kase roofs short-side shot past Merzlikins
A turning point came late in the period when Nathan Gerbe jammed one past Miller as he crashed into the crease to tie the game 2-2. Anaheim challenged with a claim Gerbe was offside, and after a lengthy replay review, officials upheld the goal because it was ruled Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm touched the puck to send it back into his own zone.
"Maybe it was a little questionable. I can't say I know exactly the rules," Lindholm said. "I think it was a battle and he was already in the zone. Maybe it was offside. Who knows? They're hired for a reason to make the right call. I put my trust in them. It's out of my control. Every man has an opinion. You can probably ask people and they'll say it wasn't offside. And there's going to be people that say it's offside. It's a tough call that's out of my control."
Columbus was awarded the requisite power play after a failed coach's challenge and cashed in on a one-timer from the slot by Zach Werenski to take its first lead of the game. Werenski got his second on the late empty-netter that all but buried the Ducks.
"There was enough evidence for it to hold up as a goal," said Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler. "There's nothing we can do after that. You have to focus on killing the penalty, and unfortunately they got one there in a span of a minute in real hockey time. We were scrambling after that."
While the Ducks has a significant 40-27 shot advantage, they fell to a puzzling 3-13-3 when outshooting an opponent.
"Overall, I liked our effort," commented Ducks coach Dallas Eakins. "I thought we were really good in the first period, excellent in the third and the second was more of an even tilt. We needed to have a huge kill late in the period, but we were unable to get it done. I liked the way we came out in the third after being delivered a blow like that."
The Ducks look to get back on track Thursday vs. Dallas, when they will honor former franchise icons Corey Perry (who is actually suspended for the game) and Andrew Cogliano with first period video tributes.