Mentally and physically drained, beaten and headed to the Midwest for two games in hostile territory, the Ducks searched to predict how Tuesday's triple-overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks will shape the Western Conference finals.
"It's not easy to lose like that," Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf said after a 3-2 Game 2 loss that evens the series, 1-1. "Tough loss, but we'll learn from our mistakes and move forward. We never expected to not lose to these guys."
The marathon battle ended 16 minutes and 12 seconds into the third overtime when Chicago's Marcus Kruger deflected the puck past Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen. It was the longest game in Blackhawks and Honda Center history and second only to the Ducks' five-overtime 2003 playoff game in Dallas.
Chicago goalie Corey Crawford made 60 saves, and Frederik Andersen had 53, blanking the Blackhawks for 109 minutes and 53 seconds until Kruger's winner.
"I started cramping in overtime. I think when you get that late in overtime it's just a matter of getting a bounce," Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said. "We competed with them as good as we possibly could. It's over now. It's 1-1. You can only read so much into it.
"It's tough right now, obviously. You compete that long and guys are laying it on the line. It's tough to lose like that. It's only one game. We have to go to their building and come out strong."
The Ducks kept Chicago scoreless for more than four periods after falling behind 2-0 when the Blackhawks converted on two power plays.
A boarding penalty on Anaheim forward Patrick Maroon was followed 28 seconds later by a blue-line blast from Duncan Keith that was deflected in by Andrew Shaw.
Shaw also provided an effective screen of Andersen on the Keith shot.
Ducks defenseman Clayton Stoner, coming off a game-high seven-hit night in Game 1, got overzealous and slammed down Kruger head-first to the boards, drawing a roughing penalty.
Brad Richards fired a deep shot that skidded behind Andersen, to his right, where the puck bounced off the sticks of Chicago's Marian Hossa and Ducks defenseman Simon Despres before going to the net at 6:19 of the first.
Anaheim answered at 9:14 when Cogliano redirected a Nate Thompson pass with his right skate past Crawford. A video review showed Cogliano did not purposely kick the puck in.
The Ducks tied the score 2-2 when right wing Corey Perry deflected in a Ryan Getzlaf pass with 2:30 left in the second period.
From there, Getzlaf and Perry hit posts and defenseman Sami Vatanen did so both in the first and second overtime. Perry lamented that he should've smacked his shots with more authority and control.
"What can you say?" Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We had the puck on our stick quite a few times."
The Ducks survived an apparent victory in double overtime, when a Chicago goal was taken away by video review.
Shaw thought he scored the winner 8:47 into the period, but an NHL review showed that he illegally head-butted the puck past Andersen after a shot by Patrick Kane glanced upward off the goalie's right shoulder.
Rule 78.5 (i) reads that goals will be disallowed "when the puck has been directed, batted or thrown into the net by an attacking player other than with a stick."
"If anyone can pull that off, I think they should call it a goal," said Shaw, who explained that the Blackhawks sustained themselves with snacks between periods.
Meanwhile, Andersen was left to make sense of a night in which he generated several crowd-raising stops, but left the softening ice highly disappointed.
"We had some really good chances and it was a tough pill to swallow. We've got to get on with it," he said. "We just couldn't get the third one in, hit the post a couple of times, some bad bounces. That's how it goes.