Two nights of disillusionment had the Ducks in a dark place Friday night.
Getting beaten by the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-1, Friday at Honda Center had them outscored a combined 10-4 against two Western Conference rivals.
"They were a lot better than us," Coach Bruce Boudreau said after acknowledging he would like his team to remember the loss as a source of inspiration.
But as more questions followed, Boudreau sought to shake the sullen mood.
"Look it, I'm concerned that we lost, but we're still No. 1 in the league in points, so we know we've lost the season series against Chicago and San Jose and we know we have to be better," Boudreau said.
"But let's not talk like we're friggin' Buffalo."
Does this foreshadow the playoffs
The point isn't that the Ducks are a bad team, it's can they accomplish more than regular-season success.
"You're talking about two great teams that we'll have to go through in order to win a Stanley Cup," Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf said. "We'll take this on ourselves, move forward and get ready for the next one."
Getzlaf pointed to mental errors. Boudreau said long passes that the Blackhawks often intercepted and sprinted the other way with were ill-advised.
Maybe part of it is that the Ducks were playing a third tough game in four nights.
But there was a talent divide, too, an uncomfortable truth Anaheim has a little more than two months to solve.
They could've used a break
If Ryan Kesler's stick had reached the loose puck that Chicago goalie Corey Crawford unwisely played behind his net early in the second period, or if referees had overturned a Chicago goal later in the second when Jonathan Toews appeared to back into Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen, it would've been a more narrow battle.
"Yeah, but, I'm not focusing on that," Boudreau said. "We've lost two in a row and haven't played well in either of them."
The Ducks can't try to match the Blackhawks' style
"It all came down to puck management," Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. "We tried to force far too many things through the neutral zone … rather than playing a simple style.
"We are a big, physical team who wants to grind the offensive zone, and we did not get to that tonight."
More will be known about these losses next week