An all-too familiar trend resulted in a disappointing outcome for the Ducks in the finale of their four-game road trip tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning. They started off on the right foot, generating chances and dictating the play. Despite trailing by a goal on two separate occasions, the Ducks answered back both times. But lackluster play in the defensive zone cost the Ducks dearly in this one, a 6-2 loss. It was a frustrating end to a four-game road trip that saw the Ducks go 1-2-1 - the lone win coming in the opener seven days ago in St. Louis. With the loss, the Ducks fell to 10-11-3, while the Lighting improved to 11-7-2.
The Lightning made the most of their chances, scoring five goals on their first 15 shots without the services Steven Stamkos, who missed the game with a lower-body injury. Brayden Point scored twice, while Nikita Kucherov, Patrick Maroon, Anthony Cirelli and Ondrej Palat rounded out the offense tonight.
"They were really opportunistic tonight," said Jakob Silfverberg. "At times we got a little too soft on second opportunities. We let them be on the inside rather than box them out. Tough loss tonight. It's never good letting in six goals."
The Ducks managed to erase two separate one-goal deficits with goals from Derek Grant and Rickard Rakell, but the Lightning capitalized on several turnovers and quickly built a multi-goal lead before the second period ended.
This marked the first regulation loss in six starts for veteran goaltender Ryan Miller, who fell to 3-1-2 this season. The 39-year-old came in with a 23-10-0 record with a 2.55 goals-against average and .913 save percentage in 33 career games vs. Tampa Bay.
At the other end, Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in a 36-save effort for his eighth win of the season (8-6-0).
Grant's goal was of the shorthanded variety - his second shorty in his past four games. He had played more than 200 NHL games before he recorded his first one in the win against the Blues. His goal tonight evened the score, 1-1, with two minutes remaining in the first period.
Video: ANA@TBL: Grant buries shot after lucky turnover
After Kucherov gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead, the Ducks answered back when Rakell sent a blistering one-timer past Vasilevskiy at the 7:57 mark of the middle frame. With the goal - his eighth of the season - Rakell pushed his point streak to a season-best five games (3g/3a). Setting up Rakell was Ryan Getzlaf, who, with the assist, pushed his point streak to four straight (1g/4a). It also gave the Ducks captain 12 points (5g/7a) in his last 13 games.
Video: ANA@TBL: Rakell fires one-timer off Getzlaf's pass
"You just need to stick to the structure," said Silfverberg. "Whenever we do that, like in the St. Louis game, we played hard and were tough to compete against. We made sure to get pucks in and pucks out. Whenever we do that, we're a team that can play with anyone. That's what we need to stick to."
The Ducks will look to get back in the win column on Monday night when they host the red-hot New York Islanders on Hockey Fights Cancer Night presented by UCI Health at Honda Center.