All season the Ducks had lived on the edge, clawing out a league-leading 26 victories in one-goal games and avoiding a regulation loss in games decided by that slim margin. Time after time they tempted fate but won.
"Eventually it was going to bite us," center Ryan Getzlaf said.
Eventually proved to be Monday. Vancouver forward Zack Kassian completed a give-and-go with defenseman Dan Hamhuis by scoring on Frederik Andersen from close range with 3 minutes 59 seconds left in the third period, giving the Canucks a 2-1 victory over the Ducks at Rogers Arena.
In the grand scheme of things, the Ducks won't be hurt by the loss that left them 26-1-7 in one goal games. And, as player after player said, Vancouver goaltender Eddie Lack played an outstanding game and often was sensational in stopping 29 shots.
"We hate to lose," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I'm mad and frustrated as everybody but that was not a bad effort."
But this game still should serve as something of a caution to the Ducks as they continue with the double tasks of blending new players into their lineup — defenseman James Wisniewski became their fourth new face in less than two weeks — while also getting their act together in preparation for postseason play.
"We've been fortunate throughout the year to be on the right side of that, but these are what the games are going to be like coming down the stretch, going to the playoffs," right wing Corey Perry said of the razor-thin margin the Ducks had been living on.
"They're going to be tight, they're going to be back and forth. The best team, playing defensively, is going to win a lot of these games."
The Ducks weren't that team Monday. Not that they were terrible, but their two biggest mistakes led to the Canucks' goals.
The Ducks failed twice to clear the zone before Vancouver rookie Bo Horvat scored at 9:57 of the first period, ending a stretch of territorial domination by the Ducks. Derek Dorsett's initial shot was stopped by Andersen, and Jiri Sekac tried to play the puck. He passed it to Rickard Rakell, but Jannik Hansen took it away and fed Horvat for a shot from the top of the right circle. The low shot became the 11th goal this season for Horvat, a promising rookie who was a first-round choice by Vancouver in the 2013 entry draft.
Not until their 26th shot on goal could the Ducks get anything past Lack, but they persevered to tie it at 1-1 at 8:40 of the third period. Emerson Etem made the goal possible by keeping the puck in the Canucks' zone and keeping the play alive, and he scored by taking a quick feed from Nate Thompson, who was behind the goal line. That was Etem's fifth goal this season.
Vancouver had only six shots in the third period but Kassian made one of them count after the Ducks couldn't get the puck deep into the Vancouver end. Things got worse when they gave the puck away before Hamhuis made a nice deke to get past Wisniewski and feed Kassian for an easy shot.
"That was a good pass in the middle there but one I've got to have," Andersen said. "I got a little of it. Maybe do a better job of closing that gap, but a tough play. That's how it is sometimes."
It hasn't been that way often for the Ducks, and they don't want it to be that way again.
Getzlaf, who hit the crossbar in the opening minutes, said he found many reasons for optimism.
"We've just got to keep going, doing the same things. Tonight I was happy with our effort, our game plan. We stuck to it all night long," he said. "We just didn't get rewarded.
"They played well tonight. They executed. They had times in the game when they were doing what we want to do, just getting the puck in and going to work. Tonight they came out on top."
And the Ducks got to know the frustration they've inflicted on opponents on so many previous occasions this season.
Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen