Ryan Getzlaf said after Wednesday’s setback, the Ducks’ seventh in a row, that there was only one recourse: to simply forget about it, move on to the next and push the loss far from their minds.
They’ll have to resort to that same mindset, but it will only become more challenging with each loss. With each failure to grab two points, the Ducks inch farther from the playoffs.
The Ducks were routed 4-0 by the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday before a sellout crowd at Honda Center. The losing streak extends to eight games, which ties a franchise record for futility set in October 1996, when the team was in its infancy.
Getzlaf and Co. are left to scratch their heads on how to solve the myriad issues that plague the club, starting with the porous defense that, in theory, is there to support goaltender John Gibson.
“When you’re in a funk and you’re in a frustration mode — it’s the hardest thing in the world when you work, work, work and you don’t get results and then they score,” Getzlaf said. “That’s kind of how it felt tonight.
“We’re working our tail off trying to get opportunities, trying to get opportunities and the one opportunity they get, they score.”
Cam Fowler returned Sunday, his first game since Nov. 12, when a puck hit his face and fractured his orbital bone. He missed 19 games after surgery. With the Ducks’ top blueliner back, the team finally had its full complement of defensemen, though one would be hard-pressed to notice the difference.
Time and again, the Oilers, led by former MVP Connor McDavid, were able to force their way to the critical areas of the ice. The Oilers’ first three goals were scored from the low slot, right on Gibson’s crease.
McDavid, who is tied for fourth in the NHL’s scoring race with 61 points, led the Oilers to a lead 7:37 into the contest with his 24th goal of the season. Gibson denied Zack Kassian, but McDavid was there to collect the puck.
The center twisted his way to the net, corralled his own rebound, and slipped the puck past the post.
Jesse Puljujarvi made it 2-0 with less than four minutes remaining in the opening period. It was yet another defensive zone start for the Ducks. Getzlaf lost the face-off; Puljujarvi outmuscled Fowler and Josh Manson in front of the net and hit a nifty no-look shot off his backhand that snuck through Gibson’s five-hole.
The Oilers’ third goal materialized short-handed, and was delivered right in front of Gibson’s crease by Kyle Brodziak.
“You gotta be strong; you can’t give teams second opportunities around the net,” Manson said. “You know Gibby’s going to save the first one, and we gotta have the backside and anything that lays around there.”
Said Fowler: “Unfortunately we just seem to be finding ways to lose hockey games instead of the other way.”
The defense is far from the only problem pestering the Ducks during this stretch. The offense has been toothless, with 11 goals in their last eight games.
Proven goal scorers Rickard Rakell, Patrick Eaves and Corey Perry remain sidelined while they nurse injuries, and that surely is contributing to the issue, but the Ducks have generated plenty of Grade-A chances. They simply can’t finish.
Wednesday’s home contest against the Ottawa Senators presents an opportunity for the Ducks to end this skid. Another loss will set a record that will prove far harder to forget.
Bob Murray reaches milestone
The Ducks general manager joined an exclusive club during Sunday’s game. Murray is now just the fifth person in NHL history to play in 1,000 games and manage the same amount. The others: Bobby Clarke, Bob Gainey, Bob Pulford and Doug Wilson.