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 at the ThunderDome on Wednesday night, they have the longest winless streak in club history, seven games. And they have only one more chance to win a game on this trip, tonight against a Florida team they have never beaten.
Guy Hebert gave the Ducks a strong performance in goal 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 and entered the game with a .819 save percentage, next-to-worst in the NHL. Bergeron was Lightning Coach Terry Crisp's third choice to start the game, behind Daren Puppa, who has a sore knee, and recently acquired Jeff Reese, who claimed dehydration 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 got seven power-play opportunities, but sometimes it was difficult to tell which team had the man advantage. On their two third-period opportunities combined, they managed only one shot.
They had a five-on-three opportunity for 1:43 in the second after former King Michel Petit took a bad penalty by high-sticking Joe Sacco when Tampa Bay was already down a man, but it didn't matter: The Ducks got only one shot on goal.
Scoring chances were few and far between, and little was required of Bergeron. Chad Kilger hit the crossbar with the Ducks down, 2-0, in the second--"a half-inch lower and it might have gone in," Kilger said. But the Ducks' only goal came at 7:54 of the second, when defenseman Milos Holan scored his second in the last three games.
Over 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' attempt to tie produced only two shots on goal.
Peppering Bergeron was part of the game plan, but you wouldn't have known it.
"We talked at length about that, about getting shots on goal and driving to the net," Wilson said. "We ended up trying to make fancy plays."
Wilson thought the Ducks looked tired late, and it's little wonder.
"We're missing most of our penalty-killers [because of injuries] 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," he said.
Garry Valk, one of the penalty-killers, required 21 stitches after being cut above his right eye in the first, 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 on Roman Hamrlik's shot from the point 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.