The Anaheim Ducks had their six-game winning streak unceremoniously snapped on Thursday in a loss to San Jose, and the 6-3 score made the game sound closer than it was. Anaheim allowed five goals in 14 minutes during a forgettable second period, then tacked on a cosmetic tally with less than 90 seconds remaining in the third.
Tonight, the Ducks try to make amends in the second of a back-to-back… against the high-octane Blackhawks.
“We’re tired,” d-man Ben Lovejoy explained, per NHL.com. “We’re coming off a terrible game. We need to go out and play one of the smartest games of the year.”
Though it’s amusing to hear complaints of fatigue five days after the All-Star break, the Ducks have been pretty busy. They played Tuesday in Vancouver, Thursday in San Jose and tonight in Anaheim; next week, they’ll begin an eastern road swing that sees them play five games in eight nights.
One would think the ‘Hawks have the Ducks right where they want them, but Chicago isn’t playing great right now either.
With just five wins from 11 games this month, the ‘Hawks sit third in the Central Division, but just two points up on Winnipeg, who holds the first of two Wild Card spots in the Western Conference. Yesterday, head coach Joel Quenneville lamented missed opportunities to gain ground on Nashville and St. Louis, who currently occupy the No. 1 and 2 spots in the division.
“We left some points on the table this month and we have to learn from it, knowing these are hard points to come by,” Quenneville explained. “You put yourself in that position where you’re doing the right things for 50 or 55 minutes and you come up with air; that’s tough.”
A perfect example of points left on the table was Wednesday’s 4-3 loss in L.A. The ‘Hawks held a 3-2 lead with less than seven minutes remaining, but left Staples with nothing after Tyler Toffoli and Jake Muzzin scored late to steal a win. It was Chicago’s sixth regulation loss of the month; failing to get any of those games into overtime and escaping with a “loser point” could come back to haunt in terms of playoff positioning later in the year.