Seeing goalie Frederik Andersen hurt and face down on the Tampa Bay ice Sunday was alarming.
The second-year goalie has been the portrait of stability on a roster that has suffered more than 200 lost-man games.
But due to a fluke third-period episode in which Tampa Bay forward Ondrej Palat pressed forward with Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm’s stick lodged by the right post, the entire goal flipped on Andersen, the crossbar bashing him in the back of the head.
A trainer rushed to Andersen’s side, the 29-game winner finally rising and later talking clearly to teammates, Coach Bruce Boudreau and team officials.
“Freddie’s been a horse for us; we never want to see him go down,” Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf said.
As Andersen’s improvement provided some relief in the post-game dressing room, there were other disturbing issues to address.
Like getting out-hit 25-14 by Tampa Bay, watching the Atlantic Division leaders block 12 more shots and beating the Ducks, 5-3, the visitors paving that outcome with a first-period disappearing act.
“Terrible start,” Ducks center Ryan Kesler said.
Time zone difference
Travel, including the time difference between the coasts, is messing with the Ducks’ minds and energy.
Assigned back-to-back road games against gritty teams, Boudreau decided to let his team rest Saturday, but skate Sunday morning.
A logical idea, except that the 8:30 a.m. EST skate time was at 5:30 a.m. PST and probably required a wake-up call in the 4 a.m. Pacific hour.
Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri said the team didn’t have its legs early Sunday.
“I don’t think it had anything to do with [the time difference]. We were rested, ready to go,” Boudreau said. “It was not energy. We’ll practice hard tomorrow, put it in the past and I’m sure we’ll play a real good game [at] Florida,” on Tuesday.
The Monday practice will start at 1:30 p.m. EST.
Suffering through a slow start
Four first-period shots on goal is never going to cut it.
Boudreau emphasized a strong first-period effort to counter Tampa Bay’s desperation to overcome their first home regulation loss since Dec. 9 a night earlier.
Instead, the Ducks were flat-lining as the Lightning blitzed.
“We knew exactly what was going to happen. We showed them clips of [Tampa Bay’s] second period [Saturday night] to show them what we expected,” Boudreau said.
“I don’t think it helped [that the Lightning scored] that goal so early [2 minutes, 55 seconds in]. That put us on our heels quite a bit.
“When you’re playing a really good team, to come back from 3-0 in the first period is a tough thing. They’re a faster skating team, and it looked like it.”
The captain is back
At least Ryan Getzlaf returned.
The Ducks’ captain needed that Sunday morning skate to clinch that he was ready to play after suffering a lower-body injury in pregame warm-ups Thursday in Nashville.
The NHL allows teams not to specify the exact nature of injuries.
He scored a second-period goal -- his 200th career goal -- thanks to a video review, and contributed an assist on the first of two by-the-way Anaheim goals in the final 5:03 of play.
“I felt pretty good,” Getzlaf said. “I felt better as the game went on, more involved. That’s part of coming back after missing a few days.”
Now, on to demanding more player accountability, as Tampa Bay did.
“I’m sure they got it taken to them,” Getzlaf said.
Insult to injury
Defenseman Hampus Lindholm also got hurt and healthy Ben Lovejoy didn’t even play.
Anaheim is optimistic that second-year player Lindholm will recover quickly to the blue line, and the team should strongly consider reinserting Lovejoy, who’s been a healthy scratch in two of the last three games.
Boudreau said individual mistakes were the major cause for Sunday’s loss.
Along with veteran Francois Beauchemin, the cerebral, fast, stay-at-home defender Lovejoy is a chief insurer of minimizing such breakdowns.