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Ducks can't make up for poor start in loss to Stars

Anaheim plays two "terrible" periods before rallying in the third, only to lose.

October 22, 2009|Robyn Norwood

It is getting late to say it's early.

Eight games into the season, the Ducks haven't found themselves, and their spurt of focused effort in the third period of a 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars on Wednesday at the Honda Center wasn't enough.

"We didn't start playing until the third period. That's not acceptable in this league," center Ryan Getzlaf said. "We tried to put a game together in 20 minutes. It's 60."

Shut out in two of their previous three games, the Ducks fell behind, 3-0, before rallying to cut the lead to one goal when Joffrey Lupul scored at 8:35 of the third.

The comeback stopped there despite some opportunities to tie, and the Ducks' chances ended when they gave up an empty-net goal to Steve Ott with nine seconds left with goaltender Jonas Hiller off for an extra attacker.

Other than a couple of fights, the Ducks were largely punchless until the third period.

"You can't have two periods playing terrible and think you can come back in the third," said Hiller, who played the full game with Jean-Sebastien Giguere available as the backup despite a strained groin.

The Stars -- who lost to the Kings on Monday, 4-1 -- were playing without Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen, both on injured reserve.

But they jumped on the Ducks easily.

Loui Eriksson scored off a rebound at 14:01 of the first, and the Stars added two more goals in the second.

Brenden Morrow scored his sixth goal of the season at 4:17 after Hiller lost the puck behind his own net on a miscommunication with defenseman Scott Niedermayer, and Trevor Daley scored on a power play at 8:53.

"I thought he was going to get the puck and he thought I was going to put it on his stick," Hiller said of the miscue with Niedermayer. "That kind of thing happens, but it shouldn't."

What has made the Ducks' struggles more troubling is they are in a prime stretch of the season when they play nine of 10 games at home.

"It's the mental part of this game that is tough. You have 82 games and you have to learn to get up for all of them," said Getzlaf, a 20-goal scorer each of the last three seasons who centers the top line but scored for the first time this season after missing much of training camp because of off-season hernia surgery.

He skated in on the left wing and went around a defenseman before beating Marty Turco high at 17:52.

The Ducks increased the pressure on Turco considerably in the third and got back in the game when Lupul trimmed the lead to 3-2.

A former Duck reacquired from Philadelphia in the Chris Pronger trade in June, Lupul had only one goal so far this season, but showed energy as Coach Randy Carlyle played him on the first two lines Wednesday.

He was open in front of the net when Corey Perry got the puck to him from behind the net, but Lupul partially whiffed, only to see the puck go in off of Dallas defenseman Karlis Skrastins.

It was a comeback that didn't get the Ducks all the way back.

"It's a positive sign on one hand, but on the other hand, it's not from a standpoint that it lets them off the hook for the rest of the game, and that's not what we're about," Carlyle said.

"We didn't compete in this hockey game enough to give ourselves a chance. We as coaches have to take responsibility for that."


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