Well at least the game didn’t go to overtime.
That’s probably the best thing that can be said about the Ducks’ embarrassing 6-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Sunday at Honda Center. Because even after welcoming leading scorer Corey Perry back from a five-game absence and getting 20 shifts from center Kyle Palmieri in his season debut, the Ducks were blown out of their own building by a team that entered the game last in the NHL in scoring.
“We weren’t very good,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “From the first shift. Whatever we say, that’s an excuse. We’re professionals. We should be better than that.”
Though the Ducks weren’t making excuses, there was at least an explanation for Sunday’s pratfall since the team came into the game having played a franchise-record five consecutive overtime games, including emotional back-to-back efforts against the Stanley Cup champion Kings.
So perhaps it shouldn’t have been surprising when they came out flat against the lowly Panthers, playing poorly enough to lose in the regulation 60 minutes while failing to earn a point for the first time in eight games.
“We weren’t ready,” said goalie Frederik Andersen, who gave up four goals. “It showed from the first period. No one in this room was ready. That’s unacceptable in this league.”
Captain Ryan Getzlaf agreed.
“It was embarrassing to play like that in our building,” he said. “We emotionally weren’t there. We didn’t make little plays. We didn’t [do] the things we needed to do.
“We’ve been playing good hockey for the last little bit. And we came up short tonight. Came up real short.”
Yet if the game marked a low point for the conference-leading Ducks, who hadn’t allowed six goals in a game since the season-opener, it was a night of milestones for the Panthers, who hadn’t scored six times in a game since March.
Two of the goals went to Nick Bjugstad, two to Brad Boyes and one each to Vincent Trocheck and Jonathan Huberdeau. It was so bad the Ducks changed goalies — briefly lifting Andersen for Jason LaBarbera — midway through Florida’s four-goal second period, after which the team was booed off the ice.
On the other side, the Panthers were so hot they even knocked in the Ducks’ first goal, with Derek MacKenzie accidentally deflecting a long Hampus Lindholm slapshot over goalie Al Montoya’s right shoulder and just under the crossbar. And the Ducks were so cold they failed to score on the power play for the third game in a row while their penalty kill gave up a score for the third time in four chances.
The Ducks did get a consolation goal in the final two minutes on Andrew Cogliano’s wrister from the right circle, giving them something to build on when they start a two-game Canadian trip Tuesday in Calgary. For Palmieri, however, the only real consolation the Ducks can take from the loss is the fact that it’s over.
“It would be really tough to find a silver lining in tonight,” he said. “We were disappointed in our effort tonight. You’ve got to let it go and get back to work on Tuesday.”