The first inkling that it was going to get ugly came when Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa took a retaliatory slashing penalty.
It officially turned bad minutes later when Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Roman Polak boarded Mike Santorelli. That prompted Josh Manson to go after Polak and end their fight with a left hand, although Polak enraged Manson with a jab as an official broke up them up.
By the time the game resumed any normalcy the Ducks were on their way to a 4-0 loss Wednesday at Honda Center that got even worse.
Newly named All-Star goalie John Gibson left the game 41 seconds into the third period when Toronto’s Nazem Kadri crashed into him. Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said Gibson is day to day with a likely lower-body injury as Anaheim’s five-game point streak came to an abrupt end.
The Ducks never regained themselves after they outshot Toronto, 11-2, to start the game.
“[Pucks] didn’t go in in that first period and then we kind got away from our game plan and stopped playing the way we normally do,” Corey Perry said. “It’s all about sticking with the process and sticking with the game plan. It works, but when you get away from it, it doesn’t.”
Perry was briefly knocked out of the game by a Kadri shoulder hit that leveled him in the second period. Perry was later slashed on the legs by Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier and Perry let out his frustrations with two cross checks on the former Kings player.
Boudreau said offensive frustration combined with some atypical rushes allowed by his defense was a good recipe for what transpired.
“They’re good at agitating and getting under the skin, and we didn’t have the composure that we needed,” Boudreau said.
Bernier’s 39 saves backed up two early goals by Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau and a goal by Kadri, who put Toronto ahead, 3-0, with a wrist shot from the left wing that beat Gibson on the stick side. Gibson appeared to have time to slide over, but it was a rare bad goal.
Gibson carried a 0.75 goals-against average and .963 save percentage with two shutouts in his last three games into the game. It didn’t help that Anaheim spent eight of the first 40 minutes killing penalties.
Perry broke in on Bernier in the third but the puck fluttered off his stick and into Bernier’s chest.
The Ducks outshot the Maple Leafs, 18-8, in the first period. Bernier made a breakaway stop on Bieksa before tempers boiled over.
Manson said he took exception to Polak’s jab. “I thought that was a little bit late and obviously the switch went off,” Manson said. “I wasn’t happy with it. Maybe I contain myself a little bit more next time. I didn’t think it was a fair play.”
Boudreau said Toronto Coach Mike Babcock recognized the situation at the first intermission.
“I’m sure Babs said something to them because they didn’t play that good to be up, 1-0,” Boudreau said. “They came out and they hemmed us in for the first three or four minutes and they got the momentum. Once they scored that second goal, you could see the bench, the air come out of the sails.”
Defenseman Clayton Stoner sat out a second straight game with what Boudreau said was “bumps and bruises” and not a long-term issue.