It would be understandable if the
But after producing another sloppy, inconsistent effort Wednesday in a 4-1 loss to the
“This is not how we want to be playing right now,” defenseman
A lot better. And at least, they know it.
"We're not sitting there thinking, 'We played a pretty good game, why didn't we win?' That's not the case," Lovejoy said. "We know how we played. We're not proud of it."
Their play was slipping before they lost
In fact, they stepped back in ugly unison.
They had a good start Wednesday, led by left wing Patrick Maroon's forceful, physical effort. He also scored his first goal in nine games, planting himself by the right post and jamming a rebound past Lightning goaltender
Everything looked good for the Ducks. “I thought our first period was probably one of the best periods we've had all season,”
And then they stopped playing that way, mesmerized by the Lightning's speed. As Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau noted, his defensemen had few hits — one by
"The first period was the way we wanted to play tonight," Perry said. "I don't know what happened in the second."
Tampa Bay controlled the pace and the puck in the middle period while outshooting the Ducks, 20-5, and scoring in two-goal clusters early and late in the period. The Ducks have given up at least four goals in four of their last five games, a losing formula for a team that insists it can't get caught up in a track meet but too often does.
"We relaxed," Lovejoy said. "We didn't play nearly as well. We had far too many turnovers. We couldn't get the puck out of our zone."
Tampa Bay pulled even at 4:31, when
Moments after Ducks winger
Steven Stamkos triggered a shower of boos from fans at
"We know we're a good team. When we play at our best level, no one can beat us in this league," Maroon said. "When we play very strong hockey we're big and physical, and we're getting away from that right now."
Too far away for their comfort.