It's been a long season for the Ducks. They have played twice as many games away (15) as they have at home (8). They have also played more games than any other team in the NHL. It was bound to catch up with them sooner or later. Despite that, the Ducks are still tied at the top of the NHL in points.
Their latest four game road trip saw Anaheim battle the flu as well as road weariness and they came home after a 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh with a 0-3-1 record.
After earning a point in Carolina on Friday night and having a couple days between games, the Ducks started well in Pittsburgh. So well, they had 12 shots on goal and held the Penguins to zero shots on goal until late in the first period.
Unfortunately, they could not capitalize, as Marc-Andre Fleury kept the Penguins in the game.
"Nothings changed in the game of hockey," said Dustin Penner. "When we outshot them so badly, there were chances to score. Against a really good team, that's when you've got to score."
After a scoreless second period, you could see that Pittsburgh was coming alive and it would only be a matter of time before the something would find its way into a net.
Brian Gibbons, newly recalled from the AHL and playing in his first game, got his first goal as well at 3:52 of the third. Caught in the middle of a line change, he ended up with Evgeni Malkin on the ice, who slipped Gibbons the perfect pass. Gibbons nailed it past Viktor Fasth and gave the Penguins the lead.
Pittsburgh never yielded it after that.
A goal from Brandon Sutter 1:02 later made it 2-0. But on the next shift, Ryan Getzlaf responded with his 11th of the year and cut the lead in half. It was the only one to make it in past Fleury, who made 27 saves for the victory.
Sidney Crosby, who had not scored in ten games, made it 3-1 at 7:56.
"We've been getting chances and stuff and we've been working hard," said Getzlaf. "But we've had sickness and injury throughout our team and we haven't dealt with it well this trip."
The Ducks now come home, where they are perfect at the Honda Center and want to a) extend that streak and b) end this losing streak.
“I think coming home is great and you love playing in front of the home crowd,” said Matt Beleskey, who was reinserted into the line up in Pittsburgh after missing six weeks with a broken thumb. "You get that energy and maybe some relaxation off the road. I think that’ll be good for our team.”
The Ducks only have two games at home (New Jersey on Wednesday and Tampa Bay revisited on Friday) before they head out on the road again. No time like the present to turn things around.