Will the Dodger Stadium hangover merely be a 72-hour condition or can the Ducks manage to shake the malaise before it lingers?
The Ducks started slowly, and sloppily, not showing the necessary urgency until falling behind by three goals in the third period. Their offensive verve eventually showed up — as expected — but it was that age-old story of a too late arrival.
The Wild protected the lead and held on to beat Anaheim, 4-2, on Tuesday night at Honda Center.
It was only the second time the Ducks have lost in regulation at home this season, the first time was a 3-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Jan 21.
Minnesota star Zach Parise, playing in his third game since returning from a foot injury, had a hand in three of the four goals, recording two assists and scoring on a nifty deflection to make it 3-1 at 6:35 of the third period.
This was the first game for the Ducks following their 3-0 victory against the Kings at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night, an entertainment spectacle with a hockey game almost hidden inside.
It was natural, and almost expected, that there would be some form of a letdown after the big event, a win over their Southern California rivals.
What could they do? Bring back KISS for a pregame gig or wear those pumpkin-colored uniforms from the outdoor game again?
OK, those bright jerseys are best hidden in some storage unit deep inside Honda Center.
Still, Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau even sounded a note of caution back on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.
"It's not like us to have a game like this," Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. "Bruce warned us, I think, in his speech after the outdoor game, the outdoor game wasn't our Stanley Cup.
"That was one game. It's over now and we just got crushed by the Wild."
Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller prevented the game from being put out of reach in the first period, and the Ducks were almost fortunate to be tied 1-1 after 20 minutes. The opportunistic Wild regained the momentum by scoring just 13 seconds into the second period on the power play when Mikael Granlund converted Parise's centering pass.
"There were so many points like that that just killed momentum, killed anything we got going," Lovejoy said.
Said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf: "You've got to engage every shift. We can't just go out and pretend."
He set up Dustin Penner's goal in the first period, at 18:13, a one-timer from the left circle, which made it 1-1. It was Penner's 13th goal of the season.
The other Ducks goal came at 10:53 of the third period, by Mathieu Perreault (10th of the season), cutting Minnesota's lead to 4-2. The Wild scored two goals in rapid succession in the third, turning a 2-1 game into a 4-1 lead.
The game marked the return of Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa, who was rusty after having missed 26 games because of a hand injury. He took two minor penalties, both for hooking, in the first period.
"It was a messy game for us out there," Getzlaf said. "It didn't start well…. Myself included, I didn't play well tonight. I've got to be better than that. We were standing around a lot in our own zone."
Said Lovejoy: "We were far too loose with the puck. We didn't bring it tonight."
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