Call it a breather, the nature of a rugged spot on the schedule, or a hiccup.
“It's an excuse,” Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf said Wednesday, something he was in no mood to accept after the Colorado Avalanche beat the Ducks, 3-0, at Pepsi Center.
The loss ends Anaheim's 12-0-2 run that dated to a Feb. 8 regulation loss. The streak was just two games shy of its franchise record for most consecutive games with a point; the loss also marked the team's first two-game losing skid since Dec. 21-22.
“We weren't prepared to play … you can say we're more battle-tested, we've played some great hockey teams [lately], but [the Avalanche] are fighting for their lives,” Getzlaf said. “They played a great game and we didn't show up.”
Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov produced a superb 37-save showing, the hosts exploited Ducks' defensive lapses and former Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin reminded his former team what got away by contributing six blocks, two hits and an assist in a team-high 25 minutes of ice time.
The loss also cost the Ducks their Pacific Division lead. Anaheim (37-20-9) now trails the Kings by a point by virtue of the Kings' overtime victory over the Capitals.
The Ducks were unable to sustain major pressure on Varlamov.
“We were all perimeter [shooting]. When we're playing good, we're playing to the inside,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Just after Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm hit a post with a shot, Colorado took control on goals by Andreas Martinsen and Shawn Matthias in a 2-minute 12-second span late in the second period.
Martinsen worked the puck to Matt Duchene, then got it back from him to whip a shot past Ducks goalie John Gibson, who was on a 7-1-1 run since Jan. 20, but too often was abandoned Wednesday.
Pressure resumed after Matthias stripped Corey Perry, then took a behind-the-net pass to beat the distracted Gibson.
“We got away from the way we play,” Boudreau said. “I think we gave up more odd-man rushes in a five-minute span than we had given up in the last 15 games. … We have to play with structure.”
It didn't help that the Ducks lost defenseman Sami Vatanen with an upper-body injury before those two goals. Vatanen was plus-five with two goals and eight assists since Feb. 16.
Vatanen will be evaluated Thursday, Boudreau said, calling the first-period injury a “day-to-day” matter for now.
Colorado, which began the night tied with Minnesota for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot, played with appropriate urgency in the opening period to lead 1-0.
While Gibson made a point-blank save on Nathan MacKinnon in the first six minutes, then topped that with a right pad save on Duchene, Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson flipped a pass up ice that MacKinnon controlled while tied up with Ducks defenseman Josh Manson. Then he beat Gibson with a shot past the goalie's glove side.
Beauchemin has set a career high in blocked shots this season. He knocked down a second-period open look by Jakob Silfverberg and had the second assist on Martinsen's goal before absorbing a late stick to the chest by frustrated Ducks forward Jamie McGinn.