Amazing how a few weeks of hard work and well-deserved momentum can be undercut by, say, 69 seconds of bad hockey.
Or two sloppy shifts. And all that heavy lifting goes for naught.
That is exactly what happened to the Ducks on Wednesday night in a rapid-fire first-period meltdown at Honda Center. Dallas defeated the Ducks, 6-2, scoring three goals in a span of 3 minutes 54 seconds and two goals in 69 seconds.
That turned into a 3-1 lead for the Stars after one period. Though the Ducks flickered back to life, briefly, holding the deficit to two goals by the end of two periods. Still, in the end, their opening-period lapse proved costly.
"All I've got to blame is myself," defenseman Luca Sbisa said.
The Ducks goals were scored by winger Matt Beleskey and Sbisa. Their big line of Corey Perry- Ryan Getzlaf-Bobby Ryan went pointless.
Dallas was sparked by three-point efforts from forwards Jamie Benn and Michael Ryder.
The Ducks, of course, only have themselves to blame for their current predicament. The errors of October, November and December were always going to loom large.
So much so that there remains little margin for error in Anaheim, despite a 9-2-1 run in January. A win against Dallas would have pulled the 13th-place Ducks eight points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
They remain 10 points behind eighth-place Minnesota and trail the Stars by nine.
"We're not going to win every single game the rest of the year and we've got to take it that way," Getzlaf said.
The Ducks, having played and won Tuesday night at Phoenix, opened the scoring at 5:14 of the first period on Beleskey's third goal this season. He spun and his shot deflected off defenseman Stephane Robidas and popped up over the right shoulder of goalie Kari Lehtonen.
Then the breakdowns came in quick fashion. Stars forward Eric Nystrom pounced on a short rebound in front of goalie Jonas Hiller and swiped the puck between Hiller's right leg and the post to tie it, 1-1.
The Ducks' defense tandem of Lubomir Visnovsky and Sbisa had two forgettable shifts on the Stars' next two goals. Vernon Fiddler simply outworked Sbisa along the boards and toe-dragged on Visnovksy, scoring on a dazzling unassisted effort to make it 2-1.
Sixty-nine seconds later, Benn, the Stars' All-Star representative, split the defense and scored his 14th goal.
"I had two shifts there, made two mistakes which ended up being two goals, and down 3-1," Sbisa said.
"If those goals don't go in, it might be a different game. We battled back. We had a lot of energy in the second period and thought we could turn this game around.
"But the first shift in the third period, their goal knocked the wind out of us. At the end of the day, we can't be happy with ourselves. It seemed like they won more battles than we did."
Said Coach Bruce Boudreau: "We played bad tonight. It wasn't fun to watch. ... I thought we played 12 really good games in a row. Tonight, we didn't. We stunk."