It is only fitting that on Friday the 13th, this game had the look and feel of a horror flick.
A steady parade to the penalty box had the Ducks skating uphill all night in a 3-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Friday. Of the eight penalties the Ducks committed, six were slashing infractions.
It was a frustrating night from start to finish for Anaheim, which fell to 2-2-1 on the season. The lone bright spot for Anaheim was its goaltending, despite an abbreviated performance from John Gibson. Gibson left the game after 20 minutes and was replaced by backup Reto Berra, who played the final two periods. After the game, Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said Gibson's status is "day to day" with an upper-body injury.
"I've done a couple of backup games [in my career], so I kind of know that when I jump in, I have to be ready," said Berra, who turned aside 19 shots in his Ducks debut. "We were in the intermission, so I had time to get ready physically and mentally."
Brandon Montour scored the lone goal for the Ducks, which lost for the third time in the past four games.
Gabriel Landeskog, Tyson Barrie and Nikita Zadorov scored for the Avs, while former Ducks goaltender Jonathan Bernier stopped 17 of 18 shots to lift Colorado to a 4-1-0 record through five games.
"We couldn't muster much offense tonight," said Caryle. "We did a lot of chasing of the game. They had more legs than we did. They were a faster hockey club than we were tonight."
Early penalty trouble proved costly for the Ducks. Shorthanded for the second time in the first half of the opening period, the Ducks gave up the game's opening goal when Landeskog was given time and space to collect a pass and jam it past Gibson's right leg pad at the 11:58 mark. It was Landeskog's second goal and fourth point in five games this season.
A scary moment happened minutes later when Nathan MacKinnon was clipped by an accidental high stick from Derek Grant. MacKinnon set up shot to the right of Gibson when Grant's stick caught him in the eye area, forcing a halt of play as the 22-year-old center fell to his hands and knees. It was later announced that MacKinnon was out for the remainder of the game with an eye injury.
The Ducks headed into the first intermission fortunate to be down a goal, having committed five penalties, four of which were slashes.
When the Ducks made their way onto the ice to begin the second period, they were led by Berra, who was forced to come on in relief of Gibson. It marked the Ducks debut for Berra, who was a member of the Avalanche for parts of three seasons (2013-16).
Much like Gibson in the first period, Berra was under siege during the middle frame, making 12 saves in a period thoroughly dominated by the Avs. Bernier, on the other hand, only had to make four saves. Though the Ducks were awarded a power play when JT Compher was sent to the box for holding at the 8:59 mark, they made little use of the 5-on-4. Of the four shot thrown towards Bernier, three were blocked.
Down a man for the seventh time in the game, the Ducks managed to tie the game on the only odd-man rush they had all game - a 3-on-2 that featured Montour trailing the play. After receiving a pass from Andrew Cogliano just inside the blueline, Montour unloaded a quick wrist shot to beat Bernier glove-side at the 2:14 mark of the third period.
Video: ANA@COL: Montour buries a shorthanded goal
The Avs appeared to take a 2-1 lead midway through the period, but for the second time in the game, the goal was waved off because of interference with the goaltender. This time, it was rookie Alex Kerfoot, who grazed Berra just enough to inhibit his positioning on Compher's shot from the right dot. (The Avs used their lone challenge earlier in the game on Matt Nieto's no-goal).
Colorado re-gained the lead with 5:39 remaining in regulation when Barrie's one-timer caught the near-side post before caroming into the net. The goal came on Colorado's eighth power play of the game, this time a slashing call on Montour.
"We have to learn," said Carlyle. "The slashing penalties we took tonight are new hockey rules that are being enforced. You can't slash or touch anybody with your stick in the hand or stick area."
Zadorov scored into an empty net with less than a second remaining on the clock to give the Avs a 3-1 lead and improve their record to 4-1-0.
The Ducks will return to Anaheim to host the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.