The Ducks hung their heads in dejection as boos greeted the players skating off to end the second period.
It was an ugly one.
Sloppy passing and a stupefying lack of discipline led to a roughshod second period the Ducks never recovered from.
San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane scored twice, and reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns added a third goal, all in the span of eight minutes in the second, to defeat the Ducks 3-0 in Game 1 of their first-round series Thursday at Honda Center.
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle stressed the need for the Ducks to “hold serve” and win their games on home ice, but now, that strategy is finished, and the Ducks are left searching for answers after a listless performance to start the postseason.
“I’ve never heard of a team winning the Stanley Cup sitting in the penalty box,” defenseman Hampus Lindholm said.
The slam of the penalty box door shutting echoed throughout Honda Center over and over as a parade of Ducks players entered and exited to the tune of seven minor penalties (the Sharks committed just three).
Andrew Cogliano and Ryan Getzlaf were sent off within 15 seconds of each other, both for slashing infractions.
Ten seconds after Getzlaf joined Cogliano in the box, Kane fired a puck past John Gibson from the slot after a Joe Pavelski feed.
Less than seven minutes later, it was Kane again. The Sharks caught the Ducks on a change, and the trade-deadline pickup finished off a two-on-one assist from Pavelski.
Kane slithered around Gibson and then pushed the puck over the goal line with a desperate dive.
It didn’t appear the second period could go any worse.
The Ducks failed to generate much offense and failed to test Sharks goalie Martin Jones. But 1:24 after Kane registered his second goal, Burns’ wrist shot through traffic found the back of the net.
Perennial All-Star center Joe Thornton hasn’t suited up for the Sharks since undergoing knee surgery in January, but he was on the ice for warmups and is nearing his return.
The Ducks remain without top defenseman Cam Fowler, who injured his left shoulder this month. He’s no longer in a sling, but he still hasn’t joined the squad for practice, so the Ducks will continue to rely on two rookies — Marcus Pettersson and Andy Welinski — to log important ice time.
As the final minutes of Game 1 whittled away, the Ducks trudged along the ice, the pep gone from their step, as the boos rang louder and the fans headed for the exits early.
“I don’t think it’s a question of they weren’t skating hard, we just didn’t seem to have our legs or our hands or are our minds tonight. … We didn’t execute with the puck, we didn’t show any aggressiveness in our skating game,” said Carlyle.
But as Lindholm reiterated, the Ducks have to push this performance far from their minds.