Try as they might, the Ducks couldn't quite complete the comeback. A disastrous opening period that saw the Ducks give up three unanswered goals ultimately doomed them, as they lost 3-2 to the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on Monday night. The defeat came less than 24 hours after the Ducks grinded out a 1-0 victory over the LA Kings at Honda Center. The loss dropped Anaheim's record this season to 31-20-10 (72 points) and also snapped the club's five-game winning streak against the Coyotes in the series finale.
Ryan Getzlaf scored both goals for Anaheim, which remains in third place in the Pacific Division (tied with second-place Edmonton). Jonathan Bernier had a nightmarish return to the crease, allowing three goals on six shots in 20 minutes of work before being replaced by John Gibson, who took over for the second and third periods.
"We don't have any excuses," said Cam Fowler. "They came out and skated really well. We left out goalie out to dry. Berny's done a great job of competing. When he gets his opportunity to play, it's special for him. We felt we let him down."
Christian Dvorak, Jakob Chychrun and Radim Vrbata scored for the Coyotes (21-30-7, 49 points), who won for the fifth time in their last eight games (5-2-1). Mike Smith put together an All-Star caliber performance, stopping 27-of-28 shots, but left the game in the third period after a collision with Jakob Silfverberg. Marek Langhamer finished the remainder of the third period in his NHL debut.
"Smitty is an All Star for a reason," said Fowler. "He's a big body and takes up a lot of the net. He's super athletic. We didn't see [Langhamer] before, but he made some huge saves."
It didn't take long for the Coyotes to get on the board, needing just two minutes for Dvorak to give them the lead. The rookie center slipped behind Fowler before sneaking a backhander through the five-hole for his 10th goal of the season and ninth point in his last nine games.
The Coyotes made it a 2-0 game when another rookie - 18-year-old Chychrun - snuck backdoor to bury a one-timer off the rush. Chychrun was selected in the first round (16th overall) of the 2016 NHL Draft and became the first rookie defenseman in franchise history to record a point in his first three NHL games earlier this season.
The first period got worse when Vrbata's shot-pass deflected off Sami Vatanen's right skate and into the net, giving the Coyotes a 3-0 lead at the 14:50 mark.
After dominating the first half of the second period, the Ducks finally solved Smith when Josh Manson released a seeing-eye shot that snuck through traffic before catching a piece of Getzlaf at the 12:26 mark. The goal gave Anaheim's captain his 10th goal and 44th point of the season. Manson was given the primary assist, his second point in as many games (1g/1a).
Video: ANA@ARI: Getzlaf tips Manson's shot into the twine
After Smith went to the locker room midway through the third period, rookie goaltender Langhamer came on in relief for his first appearance in the NHL. The 22-year-old, who was selected in the seventh round (184th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft, had a 4-5-1 record with a .914 SV% and a 2.90 GAA in 12 games with Tucson (AHL) this season.
Getzlaf got the Ducks within a goal when his slap shot beat Langhamer on the glove-side with 26.8 seconds remaining in regulation.
Video: ANA@ARI: Getzlaf nets slap shot for second tally
Langhamer's best stop came when the Coyotes needed it the most - a glorious left-pad stop on Vatanen's point-blank chance as the clock expired.
The Ducks will return home to face the Boston Bruins at Honda Center on Wednesday.