ANAHEIM -- Flipping the calendar to 2019 didn't manage to change the fortunes of the Anaheim Ducks, who find themselves mired in a frustrating funk.
The Ducks dropped a seventh straight game, this time 3-2 at Honda Center to the visiting Vegas Golden Knights, who downed Anaheim for the third time this season. The defending Western Conference champs potted the tying and go-ahead goals in a manner of seconds in the second period and hung on down the stretch for a fifth straight win.
Anaheim sent goalie John Gibson to the bench for an extra attacker with about a minute and a half left, and despite some close calls, the Ducks didn't get the goal they needed.
The Golden Knights scored the game's first goal seven minutes into it on a delayed penalty in which it appeared the Ducks touched the puck at least two different times. Officials never blew the whistle, and Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt ultimately connected on a slap shot through traffic. The Ducks feverishly disputed to no avail, and it was 1-0.
About nine minutes later, the Ducks came oh-so-close to tying it when the puck glanced off the crossbar on a Carter Rowney pass into the crease, and it danced on the stripe, mere inches from crossing completely.
The Ducks ultimately knotted it up two minutes into the middle frame on the power play when Daniel Sprong's point shot connected through a Nick Ritchie screen in front.
Video: VGK@ANA: Sprong sizzles a huge slap shot past Fleury
Just 18 seconds later, Anaheim took the lead on a beauty of a tic-tac-toe play that finished with Hampus Lindholm making a nifty touch pass to Rowney, who tapped it into the open net.
Video: VGK@ANA: Rowney finishes off great passing sequence
Vegas evened it just past the halfway point of the period when Tomas Nosek punched in a bouncing puck in the crease. They went ahead a mere 31 seconds later when Max Pacioretty tapped in a Paul Stastny pass of an Anaheim turnover.
"There are moments we played some great hockey, but we let up a little bit and other teams can capitalize," Rowney said. "That's frustrating. We need to come together and play a full 60. We can't have those down minutes or missed plays."
The Ducks survived a lengthy 5-on-3 during the middle part of the period to remain within a goal and seemed set to tie it with five minutes left on a nice feed from Ryan Getzlaf to Jakob Silfverberg, who couldn't deposit it into a gaping net.
"We just haven't found any rhythm," Getzlaf said. "I'm not playing up to the point I want to play to help push this group. I have to find that. We have to find it as a group to play consistently throughout a whole hockey game."
Ondrej Kase had a good look in the final minute with the Ducks skating with an extra attacker, but couldn't get the puck past Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (25 saves) from a tough angle. Gibson had 39 stops at the other end of the rink for Anaheim.
"We had our fair share of chances, but our finishes need to improve," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "Especially in these tight games, difference makers have the make the difference for us."
The Ducks will look to break the streak Sunday evening vs. Edmonton at Honda Center.