They haven't clinched the Western Conference's No. 1 playoff seed, and the Ducks haven't solved some nagging issues with just one game left in the regular season, either.
Done in by another lethargic second period and uneven defensive attention, Anaheim suffered a 4-0 shutout loss to the Dallas Stars in its regular-season home finale Wednesday at Honda Center.
“It was … poor, wasn't very good, not the way we want to finish the season at home,” Ducks forward Corey Perry said after his team had 19 shots at Dallas backup goalie Jhonas Enroth. “We have one more to get ready. [Saturday in Arizona] has to be our best game, has to be what we're going to do in the playoffs.”
The Ducks can clinch the West with at least a regulation or overtime victory in Arizona, and their standing as the No. 1 seed could already be theirs depending on what the St. Louis Blues do in their two games between now and then.
If the final two games represented anything more than a necessary scheduling commitment before the postseason, Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler said earlier this week that they're a proving ground of the team's defensive commitment.
“The main thing is not cheating offensively,” Fowler said. “You start to do that, any team will get in trouble. The better defense we play, the more goals we seem to score. That's our formula for success and we have to stick to it.
“It's a mind-set. We have to make it difficult for teams to get to the middle of the ice. That's something we're focused on. You need all five guys. We have to work as a unit.”
That was at play in a scoreless first, but 2 minutes 4 seconds into the second, a risky long pass from defenseman Clayton Stoner was intercepted at mid-ice by Dallas center Ryan Garbutt, setting up his own shot that was rebounded and put in the net by the Stars' Vernon Fiddler.
“We wanted to play a solid game, but it started with me and we fell out of control from there,” Stoner said. “Definitely not what we wanted.”
As Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf rested from the season's bumps and bruises, a lost faceoff was then sent to Dallas defenseman Jordie Benn, who blasted a shot from the blue line that beat goalie Frederik Andersen.
Competing with John Gibson for the Game 1 playoff assignment, Andersen had won four of his five prior starts, but he was left sprawling in the second by 19 Dallas shots.
Then Stoner further hurt his cause for playoff time by committing a hooking penalty, followed 77 seconds later by a Simon Despres delay-of-game penalty.
With the two-man advantage, Dallas made it 3-0 with 8:35 left in the second on Jamie Benn's second of three assists. Patrick Eaves' one-timer forced a timeout and a scolding from Coach Bruce Boudreau.
“The urgency's there … right now I don't have the answers,” Stoner said.
Benn tied John Tavares of the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby for the NHL points lead (83).
The Ducks, meanwhile, will probably enter the postseason with the most goals allowed by any Western Conference team (225).
Anaheim clearly has to address its tendency to drop its intensity in the second period. The Ducks have now been outscored 97-73 in the second period this season.