The best of the West went up against the best of the East and it wasn't even close. The Tampa Bay Lightning showed why they are tops in their conference, even without Steven Stamkos, in a 5-1 defeat of the Anaheim Ducks.
The Ducks, who were playing their second of four road games, have been ravaged by the stomach flu, which is making its rounds to all the players. Watching the game made Ducks fans ill, too.
Lifeless? Unmotivated? Unprepared? Backsliding into bad habits?
The Ducks fell behind early to goals from former Detroit Red Wing foe, Valtteri Filppula and a power play notch for Martin St. Louis, playing his 998th NHL game.
"It was a tough one. Not a really good start for us," said Mathieu Perreault. "They got the lead and [we thought] This can’t be happening to us. Even though we had a couple guys who are injured, we need to battle harder for sure."
The Ducks, who did not even get their first shot on goal until 13:30 minutes into the game, did not battle.
Instead, the Lightning continued to pour it on in the second period. Filppula got his second of the game on the power play at 3:16. Alex Killom made it 4-0 at 10:51. It was not all Jonas Hiller's fault.
"I thought we were pretty fragile," said coach Bruce Boudreau. "Once you got behind, it was like the shoulders dipped and we didn't have enough pushback. It's not us. We haven't done that in 20 games. When they started to get physical, we didn't meet the bell."
The only positive glimmer was a goal from Emerson Etem at 16:07 of the middle frame. It spoiled Ben Bishop's bid at a shut out and gave the Ducks a little positive reinforcement.
The final goal from Victor Hedman at 2:05 of the third just sealed the Ducks fate.
"We just didn't compete hard enough in a game that was an important game," said Boudreau. "When you don't cdompete againast a team that competes, it doesn't matter who's in the line up of who's out of the line up. You're not going to have success."
The Ducks did seem to finally get their legs under them late in the game, but certainly too little too late to do anything about the outcome. But at least it was something to build on in the next game.
"The positive is we started out the last road trip 0-and-2 and we finished off strong," said Etem. "That’s our goal, to get two big wins coming up. We’ve just got to get back to playing the game we know we can play. That’s playing simple, getting a lot of shots on net and getting the shots on net early. We’re going to get back to that."
No time to dwell on this one. Carolina is up next on Friday night as the second of back to back games and time to reverse directions in the win/loss column.
In other notes: Viktor Fasth was recalled from Norfolk, where he had been sent on a conditioning assignment, and he backed up Hiller. Frederik Andersen and Sami Vatanen got sent down to Norfolk because as Boudreau said, "you can't carry 25 players."
Matt Beleskey remains in Norfolk, also on conditioning assignment, after breaking his thumb early in the season.
Ryan Getzlaf remains out with an upper body injury.