The entertainment value of an NHL shootout quickly loses its thrill after consecutive losses.
Still, Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau won't get pulled into the debate of whether a skills competition — his sport's equivalent of a free-throw contest, home-run derby or punt, pass and kick competition — should decide a game played an entirely different way for 65 minutes.
The Ducks (43-14-7) have gotten only one point in their last two games, losing shootouts to Eastern Conference powers Montreal and Pittsburgh in Anaheim, and watching their Western Conference lead over the St. Louis Blues shrink to one point before Sunday.
So the effect of a shootout loss is critical, but Boudreau said as he read a Sunday morning story assailing shootouts that he's not going to be phoning Commissioner Gary Bettman demanding a change.
"Shootouts are a skills contest and if you don't win it, it's a loss," Boudreau said. "But the game's not a loss, you just lose the point.
"The way I look at it is we haven't lost in regulation in the last five games. We've limited the teams to three goals in the last five periods, and one was on the power play.
"One of our goals was to be a good defensive team and we're fifth right now in the league. And we're getting better all the time."
Instead of getting bitter.
Boudreau said Corey Perry (four goals, one assist, plus-four in three post-Olympic break games) is peaking after a slow start following his 2010 Olympic break, when it took him 12 games to score four goals.
"Everybody else is chipping in," Boudreau said. "I'd like us to spread the scoring around a little more, but I'm sure that's going to come."
The Maple Leafs (34-23-8) beat the Ducks in Toronto in October. The game closes a five-game homestand, to be followed by a trip to Calgary, Colorado and the Kings from Wednesday through Saturday.
Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa departed Friday's game after the first period with a lower-body injury and probably won't return until at least the game against the Kings, Boudreau said.
"It's not long term," Boudreau said. "Might be skating Tuesday."
Center Mathieu Perreault (arm) skated at Sunday's practice, "and I'm pretty sure will be ready to go Wednesday," in Calgary, Boudreau said.
"Really good fit, hard-working guy," Boudreau said. "Competes hard."
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