EDMONTON, Canada — What the Ducks hoped to rectify Sunday night remained troubling.
After he was stung by three second-period goals, veteran goalie Jonas Hiller's slump worsened to 6-9-3. Vulnerable because of the injury losses of intimidating forward Tim Jackman and tough defenseman Mark Fistric, the Ducks lost all three fights in the period.
And by losing in regulation to the last-place Oilers, 4-2, at Rexall Place for the first time in 13 games dating to 2007, they were unable to get within a point of Western Conference leader St. Louis or go three points up on the San Jose Sharks in the Pacific Division.
Both St. Louis and San Jose also lost over the weekend.
"Every player on our team is acutely aware of where we are in the standings, and acutely aware of what's at stake," said Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau.
The Ducks (50-20-8) play at Vancouver on Monday night, then finish the regular season against playoff qualifiers San Jose, the Kings and Colorado.
Ducks forward Matt Beleskey, sporting a swelling left eye as a result of second-period fisticuffs against Edmonton's Steve Pinizzotto, insisted his team does not carry the swagger of a group knowing it can clinch the division on demand.
"Of course not, we can't have that mind-set in this league," Beleskey said. "You've got to play a full 60. We let up for a bit. We've got to work harder, be a better team, and I'm sure we will [Monday]."
Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf said the two Beleskey-Pinizzotto skirmishes and Patrick Maroon's lost fight against Oilers defenseman Mark Fraser were detrimental.
"We let our emotions get the best of us for a while; that was a little counterproductive," Getzlaf said.
And after the Ducks' defense limited the Oilers (28-42-9) to just seven first-period shots on Hiller — Anaheim taking a 1-0 lead 80 seconds into the game on a Jakob Silfverberg goal against ex-Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth — Edmonton answered.
Taylor Hall scored on a power-play drive from Hiller's left and Oilers forward David Perron unleashed a shot that Hiller said hit his stick, causing a 2-1 deficit.
"Seems like now I can't get a break, like things find a way to hit me and go in," Hiller said. "Those bounces happen when you don't work enough."
Then, seconds after Ducks scoring leader Corey Perry was denied twice by Fasth, Edmonton defenseman Justin Schultz crept behind Hiller to tap in a puck loosened by Jordan Eberle's pressure.
The Ducks made it 3-2 when Perry deflected in a Getzlaf shot 25 seconds into the third, but another Getzlaf blast hit a post and the Oilers clamped down, finishing with 25 blocked shots with Fasth stopping the next 11 shots.
"The guys played great in front of me today, cleared a lot of rebounds and blocked a lot of shots," Fasth said.
With 19-win rookie Frederik Andersen sidelined for the Canadian trip because of a headache stemming from a Friday game collision, Boudreau was asked whether he'll consider starting 20-year-old rookie goalie John Gibson against the Canucks.
"I'll talk to the coaches and people and we'll see what we're doing …," Boudreau said. "I think [Hiller's] really lacking in confidence, and once the first one went in, he was worried until he regained his composure."
Hiller's 0-3 run is obviously not where a team wants its primary goalie with the Stanley Cup playoffs starting in eight days.
Hiller said, "It's his decision, but it'd be nice to put this one behind and not have a week to think too much about the bounces I didn't get. It's his decision."
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Etc.: The Canucks' last gasp at a playoff spot could be taken against Anaheim, which won at Vancouver, 5-1, on March 29. This could be Teemu Selanne's final game in Canada since only the Montreal Canadiens are in playoff position.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun