Tough Loss Creates a Sense of Urgency

Times Staff Writer

There may be a full second half of the season left, but the Mighty Ducks are sensing that they need to start putting wins together if they want to remain in contention for a playoff spot.

The Ducks missed a chance for two points against a bad team in losing to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, which put more emphasis on tonight’s contest against the struggling St. Louis Blues, who have an NHL-worst 22 points.

Coach Randy Carlyle was hesitant to call it a must-win situation, but some players are feeling a sense of urgency as they sit four points behind Phoenix, which now is in eighth place overall in the Western Conference.

“The next month is going to be huge for us,” forward Rob Niedermayer said. “You look around the league. Phoenix is starting to play some pretty good hockey. Colorado is there.

“We’ve got to not only try to keep pace but gain a little bit because they’re ahead of us.”


Said forward Teemu Selanne: “That was a tough loss in Columbus. You can’t get those points back. It’s a challenge for the team.”

Carlyle sought to downplay the focus on tonight, calling every game important.

“I don’t know if you can put that type of exclamation mark on it,” he said. “Obviously, points are going to become ever more important.... No, I don’t think it’s must-win at this point, but it’s an important game to focus on and play well.”

The Ducks’ road record is an abysmal 3-9-3. Their three-game trip ends Sunday against Nashville, which is fighting Detroit for the Central Division lead.

“We’ve got to start playing better on the road and start coming up with a few in a row,” said Niedermayer. “That’s the big thing. You can’t just win one and lose one. You don’t gain any ground that way.”



at St. Louis, 3 PST

Site -- Savvis Center.

Radio -- 1090.

Records -- Ducks 16-15-6; Blues 9-22-4.

Record vs. Blues -- 2-1-0.

Update -- The Ducks are trying to win the season series for the third time in their history. In the Dec. 21 meeting, they set a team record for the fastest four goals to start a game in an eventual 6-3 victory.