Ducks’ early lead slips away in 4-2 loss to Blues

Jeff Le-USA TODAY Sports
Anaheim allowed 4 unanswered goals as they took their 6th loss in a row.

Looking to find a bright spot in what has not been a fun month of March for the Ducks, they headed to St. Louis for a battle with the Blues. The first period was a successful one for Anaheim, as Troy Terry’s 18th of the season was the lone score in the opening 20 minutes. The Ducks took their 1-0 lead to the second before St. Louis showed some resilience. Kevin Hayes scored for the Blues to even the game at 1 and send a close contest into third all knotted up.

This was where St. Louis fully stepped on the gas, scoring three goals in the opening 10 minutes of the period to grab a 4-1 lead. Robert Thomas had two of the scores while Jake Neighbours had one for himself. In the final seconds, Troy Terry scored his second goal of the game to make it 4-2. It was too little too late, however, for the Ducks as they took a 6th consecutive loss and dropped to 2-7 in March.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

The Blues feast on power-play opportunities

For a team that is already at the very bottom of the NHL in power-play defense, things got worse on Sunday. It was, actually, a solid first period for the Ducks as they somehow managed to fend off three separate power-play opportunities. They escaped the period with a 1-0 lead, which has been a rare sight for Anaheim as of recently. Unfortunately, the first and third periods turned out to be polar opposites. The Blues managed to rain in 3 power-play goals during the third to cap off a run in which they scored 4 unanswered and grabbed a firm lead. Now with 74 power-play goals allowed this season, the Ducks sit at the bottom of the league by a frightening margin of 16 goals between them and the next worst club (Minnesota Wild, 58). The reality is that they cannot afford to commit 6 penalties throughout the course of a game and expect to walk away with a W. The power-play struggles have gone parallel with the team’s total penalties committed, which is now up to 374. This is also a league-worst number with the next closest team sitting at 336 penalties (Florida Panthers). Coach Greg Cronin was very frustrated with his team’s lack of discipline. “You can’t take six penalties,” he said. “We killed three yeah but 50% isn’t a good percentage when you’re killing penalties.” He’s definitely correct, and the Ducks will need to stiffen up their power-play defense if they finally want to return to the win column.

Terry scores the Ducks first two goals since March 12

Not much has gone right for the Anaheim Ducks during their 6-game skid, and they’ve been outplayed by opponents at a total margin of 31-7 during the span. More specifically, Anaheim had been shut out in their previous two games before heading to St. Louis on Sunday. Troy Terry was finally able to get the Ducks their first goal in 5 days as he took advantage of a rebound opportunity at 13:41 into the period.

Much later on in the final seconds of the game with things already decided, he would add on once more for his second goal of the contest.

He fired it in from the left side of the ice on a nice feed from Alex Killorn, who picked up his 16th assist of the season. With the two scores, Terry is now up to 19 on the season and has jumped into second on the team’s scoring list. The Ducks will, however, need to see more contributions from others as soon as possible if they want to start scoring at a respectable clip. The lack of aggressiveness has haunted them throughout the losing streak, and Anaheim has not scored more than 2 goals in a game since March 1.

Coach Cronin emphasizes lack of willingness to shoot the puck

If there is one thing in common amongst all of the bottom teams in the NHL, it is their lack of shots per game. Of the bottom 10 teams in average shots per game this season, 6 of them are in the bottom 3 of their respective divisions. Additionally, 8 of them are currently on pace to miss out on the postseason. Anaheim specifically shoots the puck at an average of 27.15 times per game, which is the 4th-least in the NHL this year. They fell just about equal with this mark on Sunday, shooting the puck 28 times in the 4-2 loss. Ducks’ coach Greg Cronin expressed his confusion with his team’s lack of willingness to shoot the puck despite being given the opportunities to do so at a higher level. “We don’t shoot the puck enough,” he said. “We have the puck in the slot and won’t shoot it. It’s amazing to me.” The comments from Cronin come at the conclusion of an 0-4 road trip that has them tied with the Blue Jackets for the third-least amount of wins in the NHL this season (23). While Anaheim’s roster certainly doesn’t stack up to the level of certain premier teams in the league, this should be no excuse for a lack of willingness to try and score the puck more often. The quicker that they are able to begin firing shots towards the net with less hesitation, victories will begin to occur more frequently.

The Ducks will now head back home to the Honda Center on Tuesday night as they host the Minnesota Wild. The team will look to avoid extending the losing streak yet again with the support of the home fans behind them. The Wild shut out Anaheim 2-0 earlier in March on the 14th, and they will be looking to hand Minnesota a piece of revenge.

The game is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. PT.