With three losses in a row, the latest at 9-3 fiasco in St. Louis, the Ducks are seriously jeopardizing their post-season chances. Giving up a total of 21 goals in that three game span points to serious defensive issues, and it isn't all netminding.
Neither Curtis McElhinney, who gave up four goals and was booted in the first period, nor Timo Pielmeier, who gave up five goals in his NHL debut, are totally at fault. Even if Hiller were well and playing, the other defensive lapses and general meltdowns would still be causing the Ducks woe.
Anaheim started with the lead, and once again, could not keep it. Jarkko Ruutu, who made his Ducks debut after being acquired from Ottawa on Thursday, got the first goal at 2:20 of the first period. Teemu Selanne scored #625 of his career at 6:41 to give the Ducks a 2-0 lead.
It went downhill from there. Rapidly.
Andy McDonald and TJ Oshie scored :07 seconds apart and Carlo Colaiacovo gave the Blues their first lead four minutes later on the power play.
Ryan Getzlaf tied things up at 16:42, but that was as close as they could get. It chased Ty Conklin out of the net for St. Louis, as he had let in three goals on five shots. The back up's back up, Ben Bishop, was solid the rest of the way.
McDonald got the game winning go ahead goal at 18:24 and that was it for McElhinney. Pielmeier then got a chance to show his stuff and got shellacked in the process.
In the second period David Backes and Oshie extended the lead to 6-3.
The Ducks felt they had a little hope when Cam Fowler thought he scored. The refs disagreed and called a goaltender interference penalty on Corey Perry instead. Selanne uncharacteristically argued the call and was handed not only an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but also got a 10 minute misconduct.
If that is not proof that the world has been turned upside down for Anaheim, I don't know what is.
The Blues got not one, but two power play goals from Chris Stewart, who was newly traded from Colorado, and instead of the game being 6-4 it was 8-3. Porky Pig could not have said it better - "that's all folks!"
The final indignity came in the third period with the Ducks yielding another short handed goal, this time to Alexander Steen at 7:21 that came on a, surprise, surprise, turnover.
To say things have gone to Hell in a handbasket would be an understatement.
The Ducks now get to come home and contemplate their stupidity, failings and navels for the next three days. Then they get to meet the Kings, who right now are salivating at the opportunity to trounce their Pacific Division and freeway rivals.
If the Ducks don't get their act together, Wednesday's game will be looked back upon as the turning point and the difference in their season. Must win is the only option for the Ducks.
Must play well is the first mandate towards that goal.