A few thoughts while Sean Avery dodges some flying shoes:
No room to breathe
-- While the Columbus Blue Jackets
entered Sunday's action with two straight victories, they had just four goals in regulation during that span. The lack of offense caught up to them at the United Center.
Granted, they peppered Chicago Blackhawks
goalie Cristobal Huet
with 32 shots -- 14 in the second period -- but only Fredrik Modin
's tally at 1:35 of the first found the back of the net. The next 58:25 provided nothing but zeroes for Columbus.
Including Sunday's loss, the Blue Jackets -- who have dropped five straight on the road -- have just 27 goals in their last 13 games.
"I think it's frustrating for everyone to live on this 'we played so well' and still only scored one goal," Hitchcock said. "Right now we're living on a fine line and there's not much breathing room."
The lack of offense certainly makes things tougher on rookie goalie Steve Mason
, who was solid again Sunday in a 28-save effort. Mason is 8-5-1 with a 1.98 goals-against average in 14 games since joining the Blue Jackets in early November.
"It's definitely hard," Mason said. "We played well enough, but just couldn't find a way to put the puck away."
Ducks pass test
-- Sure, the Anaheim Ducks
had no intentions of blowing a 2-0 lead to the Minnesota Wild
on Sunday night. But the fact they remained composed and went on to secure a 4-2 victory at the Honda Center is another indication the team is over its subpar start.
-- who has struggled since joining the team over the summer -- broke a 2-2 tie at 6:51 of the second period. Bobby Ryan
added an insurance goal and Jean-Sebastien Giguere
shut down the Wild in the third period en route to Anaheim's fifth straight win on home ice.
"We got a 2-0 lead and then we let them back in," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle
said. "It changed the momentum of the game. All of a sudden, the pressure was all on us to get the next one and we found a way to get it. I thought overall our work ethic was good. We had a contribution from every guy and that is what's important."
That included Giguere, who was dreadful against Minnesota in the regular season in 2007-08, when he went 0-3 with a 4.40 GAA. He finished with 26 saves and handed the Wild their fifth straight regulation loss, a new franchise record.
"They're a team that works hard, so it's important to outwork them if you want to be successful," Giguere said. "Last year the three games I lost, there was a lack of effort and focus. So tonight everybody wanted to be focused. Even though they don't score many goals, they don't give up many goals, either."
Minnesota certainly has experienced trouble finding the back of the net. The Wild have scored only five goals during this five-game skid and have been outshot 183-142. Nonetheless, Wild coach Jacques Lemaire
drew positives from Sunday's loss.
"This was our best game in the last five," Lemaire said. "We played with more intensity. We battled for pucks and we tried hard. You could see the energy and the intensity was there."
One of those nights
-- For a while, the Florida Panthers
were in prime position to record their sixth straight road win.
If only the wheels didn't fall off in the second period.
After jumping to an early 2-0 lead Sunday night, Craig Anderson
and the Panthers allowed five unanswered goals -- four of them in the second period -- in a 5-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks
at GM Place.
Special teams played a huge role in that wild second period, as the Canucks scored a pair of power-play goals and a shorthanded tally.
"It was just one of those nights," said Anderson, who faced 18 shots in the second period. "We lost the momentum there in the second and they got some good chances off some bad bounces. It was a tough night. It was one of those periods where nothing went our way.
"There was a snowball effect and we needed a big save from myself and didn't get it. We needed something like that to change the momentum and didn't get it."
While Sunday was the fourth of a five-game road trip for the Panthers -- the trip concludes Thursday at Carolina -- they were not about to use that as an excuse. Florida defenseman Bryan McCabe
believes it was mental lapses that cost his club.
"Fatigue was definitely not a factor," McCabe said. "Mentally, we were just not sharp tonight and it cost us. We turned a lot of pucks over that ended up in our net. And to be honest, they got some lucky bounces tonight and we didn't, but that's the way it goes."
Contact Brian Compton at email@example.com.
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.