The Anaheim Ducks were no doubt relieved when they finally got their first points of the season in their fifth game. A loss two nights later may indicate that the club hasn't turned the corner quite yet.
The Ducks look to put an end to their early struggles as they open a four-game road trip against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night.
Anaheim (1-5-0) recorded back-to-back 100-point finishes - the first two in franchise history - over the last two seasons, winning the Stanley Cup in 2006-07. The Ducks, however, haven't played like one of the NHL's elite clubs in 2008-09.
They lost their first four games by a combined 17-8, and after seemingly getting back on track with a dominant 4-0 win over previously undefeated San Jose on Friday, struggled again in a 3-1 loss to Carolina on Sunday night.
"When things are going against you, as they have this little while, we just haven't found a way to put the puck across the line enough times," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "It's not for lack of effort or quality scoring chances. We had a territorial advantage a lot of the game."
Carlyle's team has been plagued by an inability to finish all season. The Ducks are a league-worst 1-for-24 on the power play after going 0-for-4 on Sunday.
"It's unbelievable," right wing Teemu Selanne told the team's official Web site. "We're not getting any bounces. ... All kinds of things are happening, but it's not going in our favor. I think it was great effort again (Friday), and we deserved better than this."
After contemplating retirement last season, Selanne rejoined the team in February and had 12 goals and 11 assists in 26 games, with Anaheim going 20-5-1 in those contests. He's off to slow start this season, with one goal in six games.
"I think this team needs time to hang around together," he said. "That is why this road trip is going to be very good. ... It's going to be very important for this hockey club right now. This is a great group of guys here. We can turn this around."
They'll try to start doing it against the Maple Leafs (1-2-2), who are looking for their first win since a season-opening victory over Detroit. Nik Antropov scored a power-play goal at 14:25 of the first period to give Toronto a 1-0 lead Saturday, but the Maple Leafs were dominated the rest of the way in a 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh.
"We just didn't execute very well," said first-year Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson, who was the first coach in Ducks franchise history from 1993-97.
The Maple Leafs didn't fare any better against the Ducks on Jan. 9, falling 5-0 in Anaheim for one of their three shutout losses of the season. The Ducks' Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 28 shots, improving to 2-3-0 with a 2.08 goals-against average in six career games against the Maple Leafs.
Toronto's Vesa Toskala, meanwhile, fell to 2-3-0 with a 3.82 GAA against Anaheim.