ANAHEIM, Calif. – After Sunday night’s 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, the Anaheim Ducks have lost 10 of their last 11 games. Those 11 results haven’t all been merciless beatdowns by any means either. Most of those games could have and should have been wins, says Ducks head coach Greg Cronin.
“It’s terrible,” said Cronin. “It’s emotional now. You lose a game that you could have won and you’ve just got to stay positive and pull out the positive things that you’re doing and we’ve got to turn it (around). It’s got to turn.”
The Ducks had a 1-0 lead going into the third period against the Jets, thanks to a power play goal from Alex Killorn. Adam Henrique would double the lead for the hosts with a goal in the second minute of the third period, but the Jets would answer back just 43 seconds later. They would even the score four minutes later after Morgan Barron was first to a loose puck and smacked it in past goaltender John Gibson.
Gabe Vilardi would put the finishing touches on a comeback win for the Jets with a deft deflection of a Josh Morrissey shot from the point with less than two minutes remaining in the third period. Mark Scheifele would ice the game with an empty net goal a minute later.
“It’s inexcusable,” said Cronin. “We’re standing right next to the guy. The guy’s belly button isn’t going to score the goal, his stick is. These are fundamental defensive responsibilities. You either make them or you don’t.”
“We have to have a better response after they score their first goal,” said Killorn, who scored his third power play goal of the season tonight. “I felt like we didn’t play great in the first (period) in terms of intensity,” he continued. “It just didn’t seem like we were in it. In the second, we were a little bit better. In the third, in the defensive zone, a couple plays where they just outbattled us in the corners and it ends up being the difference.”
“It felt like we were doing the right things,” said Max Jones, who had the secondary assist on Killorn’s power play tally. “Just a couple of weird ones, small mishaps ended up in the back of the net. It felt like we played a pretty good game except for maybe our start. I think that’s the thing right now is the consistency, coming out and playing a full 60 minutes.”
Anaheim also lost Ryan Strome early in the second after the forward was involved in a knee-on-knee collision with Winnipeg’s Kyle Connor. Strome was assessed a five-minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct. Connor had to be helped off the ice and did not return to the game.
Cronin did not feel like there was any malicious intent from Strome on the play. “I feel bad for Connor,” he said. “There’s no way that (Strome) tried to hurt him.”
The Ducks will now head east for a four-game road trip where they will face the New York Islanders, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings. Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale, who both skated with the team at practice on Saturday, appear to be close to making their returns. When queried about whether they will travel with the team, Cronin simply replied, “I hope so.”