ST. PAUL, Minn. — There was no three-goal lead for the Mighty Ducks to blow this time around, but there was the feeling that their minds were still on their inexplicable come-from-ahead loss to Dallas the night before.
At least that's what it looked like Saturday night as the Ducks didn't offer up much of a threat to the Minnesota Wild in a 4-1 loss before a sellout crowd at the Xcel Energy Center.
The results of their second pair of back-to-back road games in consecutive weeks couldn't have been any more different. A week ago, they were on a high after wins in St. Louis and Nashville and talk of putting together a winning streak was the order of the day.
Losses to the Stars and Wild have muted that talk, or at least killed any momentum built from rare road victories.
"I thought emotionally we were kind of down for whatever reason," Duck Coach Randy Carlyle said. "We played [Friday] night in Dallas and it was an emotional game. We found a way to let Dallas back into the game. We didn't seem to garner any energy."
The Ducks didn't get to their hotel until 3 a.m. Saturday morning and while they didn't have a morning skate, their legs seemed to remain in Texas. Minnesota had a 36-23 advantage in shots and had eight power plays, four more than the Ducks.
"Enough guys have played back-to-back games on the road with travel," center Todd Marchant said. "You take care of yourself and be prepared like any other game. That being said, they outplayed us tonight. They executed their game plan better than we did."
The night didn't start right for the Ducks. Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov got caught out of position behind the net as a dump-in pass by Brent Burns took a funny bounce off the boards and opportunistic Minnesota enforcer Derek Boogaard put in a rare goal.
Todd Fedoruk managed to tie the score with his second goal of the season as he jumped on a rebound of a shot by Andy McDonald and flipped a backhander past Wild goaltender Manny Fernandez.
Whatever lift the Ducks (18-16-7) had was only temporary. Randy Robitaille, who had the decisive shootout goal in a 4-3 overtime victory on Nov. 6 in Anaheim, gave the Wild (20-18-4) the lead for good when he beat Bryzgalov on his glove side at 14:18 of the first.
The Ducks were done in by their own defensive breakdowns in the third period, as Minnesota scored twice to put the game away. Wild forward Stephane Vellieux fed a breaking Marian Gaborik, who got behind defenseman Francois Beauchemin for a breakaway goal.
Bryzgalov, who got his second start on the back end of consecutive games, was victimized again less than a minute later when Todd White went around Ruslan Salei and put a wrist shot past the goalie on the short side.
That was enough for Fernandez, who leads the NHL in goals-against average and save percentage. It was his third win in as many starts against the Ducks this season.
Fernandez made 22 saves and was at his best in the final 10 minutes of the first period when he foiled Teemu Selanne and Joffrey Lupul on point-blank tries to help the Wild take a 2-1 lead into intermission.
"We know we've got to do better," Selanne said. "The energy level was not there either. Still, that's no excuse."