LOS ANGELES - A game can change in the blink of an eye, and today it took all of 17 seconds to turn it upside down. Despite taking a 1-0 lead into the third period, the Ducks allowed three unanswered goals within five minutes, two of which in a 17-second span, in a 4-1 loss to the LA Kings at STAPLES Center on Saturday. A win would've given the Ducks (32-21-10, 74 points) sole possession of second place in the Pacific Division, but instead they'll enter their mandated bye week with six losses over their last 10 games.
Andrew Cogliano scored the lone goal for the Ducks, who won't play again until March 3 at Honda Center against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Jonathan Bernier made 29 saves in the loss, while the game also represented the Ducks debut for Patrick Eaves, acquired yesterday from the Dallas Stars.
"You can't do it every time," said Cam Fowler, on locking down a third-period lead. "You could tell they were hungrier and more desperate in the third. We made it easier on them than it should've been. In a tie hockey game, you can't give up a 2-on-1 like that. After that, we're only down one. At that point, they scored  seconds later. It's just the way it happened that's disappointing. The way we let them get momentum back into the game is disappointing."
Tyler Toffoli scored twice, while Dustin Brown and Jeff Carter tacked on goals for the Kings (30-27-4, 64 points), who remain just three points out of the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference. Jonathan Quick played his first game since the regular-season opener on October 12, and made 32 saves in the victory.
Anaheim's lauded shutdown line came through with the game's opening goal, a beautiful tic-tac-toe sequence that ultimately ended with Cogliano's backhanded deflection that beat Quick at the 16:53 mark. The play started when Jakob Silfverberg intercepted a pass at center ice and entered the zone with speed. From there, he dished it to Ryan Kesler at the far boards, who quickly sent a pass to the streaking Cogliano, who extended his stick to get a piece of the pass. The goal was Cogliano's 14th of the season and his 28th point in 63 games this season.
Video: ANA@LAK: Cogliano finishes tic-tac-toe passing play
Eaves, who skated on a line with Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry, finished the first period with 4:00 TOI and one shot on goal, and drew both penalties.
"I was trying to get my legs going," said Eaves, who finished the game with five shots on goal in 16:09 TOI. "Giving our top guys the opportunity on the power play is big. If we can win the specialty teams battle and get them out there more, the better team we'll be."
Emotions ran high early in the second period when Brayden McNabb delivered a hit on Ryan Getzlaf along the glass that forced the Ducks captain to gingerly make his way back to the bench. Nick Ritchie took exception to the hit and cross-checked McNabb at the end of the shift. Unfortunately for Ritchie, the act resulted in a penalty, which the Ducks successfully killed off.
McNabb answered the call minutes later when he and Nate Thompson squared off just inside the blueline. Thompson, not known for his fighting prowess, held his own against McNabb, who stands four inches taller. After a lengthy scrap, both players made their way to their respective penalty boxes for five minutes.
The second fight of the game was also its quickest, and occurred with 4:36 remaining in the middle frame when Carter decided to fight Kesler. The fight ended abruptly when Kesler caught Carter with a vicious right that dropped him to a knee.
LA evened the score at the 3:37 mark of the third period when Toffoli capitalized on Bernier's rebound at the near post for his 11th goal and 23rd point of the season.
Toffoli pushed the Kings to a 2-1 lead with 12:12 remaining in regulation after burying a shot over Bernier's glove on a 2-on-1 rush with Carter.
The one-goal lead quickly became a two-goal lead when Kevin Gravel's slap shot from the right point deflected off Brown and past Bernier just 17 seconds after Toffoli's second tally of the game.
"We made too many individual mistakes," said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle. "We gave them the puck. You can't make those types of mistakes in the areas we made them. They took advantage of them."
Carter put the game out of reach with an empty-net goal with 1:07 remaining in regulation to keep LA's playoff hopes alive.
"It's been a grind of a season," said Fowler. "A lot of games in a short amount of time. The guys will welcome the break. If there's nothing bothering them physically, at least it's just a bit of a mental break. It's a long season mentally and physically. I'm looking forward to a little bit of down time and being refreshed for the last leg of the season."