The Mighty Ducks have gone from Detroit to Toronto to New York to Tampa Bay in the past week, and they have next to nothing to show for it.
One point from a tie against Toronto. One power-play goal in 22 attempts.
Now, after a 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay in front of 17,260 Wednesday night at the ThunderDome, they have the longest winless streak in club history, seven games. The Ducks have only one more chance to win on this trip, tonight against the Florida Panthers, whom they have never beaten.
Wednesday, goalie Guy Hebert gave the Ducks a strong performance in his first start in five games, making 41 saves. But the Ducks were outshot, 43-18, and were held to one goal by J.C. Bergeron, who hadn't won a game all season. Bergeron entered the game with a .819 save percentage, next-to-worst in the NHL. Bergeron was the third choice of Lightning Coach Terry Crisp to start, behind Daren Puppa, who has a sore knee, and recently acquired Jeff Reese, who said he was dehydrated during the morning skate.
"There's no question that our game plan was to shoot the puck and stay out of the box as well," Duck forward Mike Sillinger said. "We didn't do either one."
As for Bergeron, "We never really tested him," Sillinger said.
The Ducks had seven power-play opportunities, but sometimes it was difficult to tell which team had the advantage. On their two third-period opportunities combined, the Ducks managed one shot.
They had a five-on-three opportunity for 1:43 in the second after former King Michel Petit was called for high-sticking Joe Sacco when Tampa Bay was already down a man. But it didn't matter: The Ducks had only one shot on goal. Their best chance came when Sillinger passed to center Bob Corkum with a nearly open net in front of Corkum, but the puck bounced over Corkum's stick.
Scoring chances were few and far between for the Ducks. Chad Kilger hit the crossbar with the Ducks down, 2-0, in the second, but the Ducks' only goal came at 7:54 of the second, when defenseman Milos Holan scored his second in the last three games.
During the final four minutes of the game, including a power play and another 54 seconds with an extra attacker after Hebert was pulled, the Ducks managed only two shots on goal.
Although peppering Bergeron was part of the Ducks' game plan, it was hard to tell.
"We talked at length about that, about getting shots on goal and driving to the net," Duck Coach Ron Wilson said. "We ended up trying to make fancy plays."
The underlying issue is injuries, but the Ducks have no choice but to muddle through. Injuries already have cost them 101 man-games this season. Tampa Bay, by contrast, has lost 47.
Wilson thought the Ducks looked "tired," and it's little wonder.
"We're missing most of our penalty-killers and we're using the same three or four up front, and a lot of those are guys who also play on the power play," Wilson said.
Garry Valk, one of the penalty-killers, required 21 stitches after being cut above his right eye in the first period. He returned for part of the second, but couldn't play in the third because his vision was impaired.
Both Tampa Bay goals came on power plays, the first by Roman Hamrlik at 18:25 of the first and the second 2:03 into the second period when Alexander Selivanov scored his 16th of the season on a shot from the slot.
"There were bad bounces, there's nothing you can do," Wilson said. "They were power-play goals. Guy Hebert played very well."
Wilson couldn't say the same for Hebert's teammates.
David Sacco, called up from Baltimore on Tuesday, centered a line with his brother, Joe Sacco, and Denny Lambert on the wings. He replaced Viacheslav Butsayev in the lineup. . . . Defenseman Jason York, who has had a sore ankle, didn't play and was replaced by Oleg Mikulchik.
* COLORADO GETS ROY: The Avalance sends three players to Montreal for disgruntled goaltender Patrick Roy and Mike Keane. C3