Ducks allow Lightning to strike early in 5-3 loss

Lightning score three times in first period in a 5-3 victory over the Ducks

When Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen was conked on the back of the head by the crossbar of a tipped-over goal Sunday, it left him feeling the way his team played.

Dazed, slow, out of sorts.

The Ducks' 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning was packed with key miscues, an inability to meet the physicality underlined by the hosts' 25-14 hits advantage and perhaps some time-change loopiness.

Andersen was forced from the game in the third period when a Tampa Bay player fell forward against a Ducks stick wedged inside the goal's right post. The goalie conversed clearly afterward and is expected to be fine, Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said.

Defenseman Hampus Lindholm also left the game in the third with what a team official described as a lower-body injury, since the NHL doesn't demand that teams specify the exact nature of injuries.

The Ducks (34-13-7) struggled to explain how a clear game plan went unexecuted.

Despite knowledge that Tampa Bay intended to mount a strong early push after losing in regulation at home for the first time since Dec. 9 Saturday because the Kings scored three goals on their first nine shots, the Ducks' trailed, 3-0, in a first period that will go down as one of their most sluggish 20-minute sessions this season.

"Obviously, we all had our eyes on the game last night. We knew what we needed to do and we just didn't do it," Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri said of the four-shot period. "Matter of having our legs under us when the puck dropped. We didn't have that."

Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who returned from a Thursday lower-body injury to contribute his 200th career goal and an assist, bluntly said it wasn't just muted hustle and intensity against the fast-skating Atlantic Division leaders.

"I don't know if the mind was going, either," Getzlaf said.

Tampa Bay's blocked-shots advantage was 21-9.

Getzlaf refused to blame the difficulty of an uneven schedule that caused Boudreau to scrap Saturday practice after back-to-back games in Nashville and Washington, but schedule a Sunday morning skate at the equivalent of 5:30 a.m. Pacific time.

"We weren't ready. We've got to have that mind-set every single night that we've got to be ready to play," Getzlaf said.

The fact they weren't showed quickly, when Ducks forwards Tim Jackman and Patrick Maroon let Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman skate between them and deliver a pass that forward Brian Boyle converted into a 1-0 lead just 2:55 into the game.

Tampa Bay's Ryan Callahan twirled a backhanded pass from the boards that was off course until it deflected off Steven Stamkos to the front of the net, where Valtteri Filppula made it 2-0.

With 1:08 left in the period, Tampa Bay's Tyler Johnson sent a puck toward the post to Andersen's left and Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov outraced Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler to it and scored his 20th goal.

"It's not energy or lack thereof. It was that we made a lot of individual mistakes, and against the highest-scoring team in the league, you cannot make individual mistakes," Boudreau said.

Getzlaf was credited with a second-period goal after a video review that showed the puck bounced off Boyle's skate across the goal line.

But the Lightning (34-16-5) bullied their way back to a three-goal lead by swarming the Ducks' goal, Boyle stabbing the puck past Andersen 14:27 into the second.

"They skate, move the puck well, attack … we weren't on the same pages," Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimespugmire

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