Whether they’ll admit it or not, the Ducks exhaled Friday night.
A game after clinching their third consecutive Pacific Division title, they lost grip on a lead after one period and fell to the Colorado Avalanche, 4-2, at Honda Center.
The defeat threatens both their pursuit of the Presidents’ Trophy as NHL regular-season points leader and for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
The New York Rangers are just two points behind the Ducks for the top NHL record, and they have five games remaining to the Ducks’ two.
In the Western Conference, both Central Division contenders Nashville and St. Louis have 103 points to the Ducks’ 107 and both the Predators and Blues have four games left.
Bring on whoever
That seems to be Anaheim’s attitude. The Ducks have long plotted for an extended playoff run, so whether they play Winnipeg, Minnesota, Calgary -- or even the Kings -- in the first round, they like the matchup.
Certainly, a conference final series without home-ice advantage isn’t ideal, but it’s also further than the Ducks have advanced in nearly a decade, and the Central is so competitive, the champion of that division might not even be favored to get that far.
Some uncomfortable signs
Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin wasn’t pleased with the showing in what he said should’ve been a more urgent effort.
The three second-period penalties that ultimately contributed to a goal, the odd-man rushes that returned … “we only have two games left before the playoffs,” Beauchemin said. “You have to be more disciplined.”
Anaheim additionally is languishing on the power play, with just one goal to show for its past 19 power plays over the past nine games.
“I’m not focused on [the seeds], I’m focused on winning games and playing well,” Beauchemin said. “Tonight was not one of those games.”
Welcome to the league
Forward Stefan Noesen, acquired from Ottawa last summer with Jakob Silfverberg for Bobby Ryan, made his NHL debut and played 6 minutes 54 seconds.
“Definitely had a little bit of jitters at the beginning, but as the game went on, it starts to be hockey,” Noesen said. “Hopefully, I’ll be here for a little bit longer.”
Noesen had a golden scoring chance in the third period right after center Ryan Kesler had his own clean look gloved.
Noesen’s missed wide.
“Found a little seam there, unfortunately it didn’t go in. I think the ‘D’ man got his stick on it,” Noesen said. “Not where I wanted it.”