ANAHEIM — The Mighty Ducks still have some fight in them, but it will take more than that to keep contending with the crowd of teams trying to make the playoffs.
The Ducks had won four of their last six games before Saturday night, when they tangled with Vancouver and lost, 3-1, in front of 17,174 at The Pond. The Canucks have been a tough opponent all season, and the Ducks ended the five-game series without a victory and only one tie.
By the time the game started, Winnipeg already had beaten Toronto to move ahead of the Ducks in the chase for the final Western Conference playoff spot held by the Kings. Anaheim is 11th, but only three points behind the Kings.
"We are back behind the eight ball after this game," forward Bob Corkum said. "Obviously it's a bit of a blow, but no one's packing it in yet. We still control our own destiny. It was a good effort. Now we have to come back and get ready for San Jose on Monday."
Most of the Ducks' chances were stymied by goalie Kirk McLean, who made 28 saves. But much as they have all season, the Ducks stymied themselves on their power play, getting precious few shots on six opportunities and going 0 for the evening.
"We are feeling the heat because our power play isn't really working," Coach Ron Wilson said.
It really isn't. They have scored on only 9.8% of their opportunities, easily worst in the NHL.
"You look at a lot of other teams, and the guys on their power play have been playing seven or eight years," defenseman Bobby Dollas said. "We've got guys who've played 30 games. It's a big burden, but we'll only get better."
The flurry of trades that have improved the team's skill level haven't done that much for the power play. With injuries, new faces and lineup changes, it's no wonder the units don't click.
Still, the Ducks went into the third period tied, 1-1. But Vancouver started the period on a power play after Todd Ewen was called for roughing after the second period ended. The Canucks took advantage, scoring the game-winning goal.
The Ducks had killed off four Vancouver power plays, but they didn't hold off the fifth. Martin Gelinas cut in low on the right circle, and with Hebert hugging the near post, Gelinas beat him inside the far post at 1:58.
"That penalty on Ewen at the end of the second period certainly gave us some momentum going into the third period," Vancouver Coach Rick Ley said.
A recent refrain from Wilson has been that the Ducks don't get much respect, even from referees.
"I can't believe Ewie got a penalty," Wilson said. "They got a cheap goal on a cheap power play that shouldn't have been a power play."
Vancouver made it 3-1 at 10:34 when Christian Ruuttu's shot from the blue line went in after deflecting off the stick of Duck defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky. The Ducks have decided that scoring the first goal of the game is critical to their chances. But after a scoreless first period Saturday, Vancouver took the lead 1:24 into the second on a rare goal by defenseman Bret Hedican, an old buddy of Hebert's when both played in St. Louis.
The Ducks tied the score at 6:43 when Stephan Lebeau got the puck off the boards in front of the Vancouver net, then held to get Kirk McLean moving and pushed the puck past him.
The ice surface had gotten better reviews recently, but was panned on Saturday. "You can't make a level pass," Vancouver Coach Rick Ley said. . . . Defenseman Bobby Dollas returned to the lineup after missing two games after a concussion suffered when he took an elbow to the head from the Kings' Marty McSorley. . . . Robert Dirk did not play after requiring 40 stitches after he was hit on the bench by a puck Thursday.