By Pete Zarustica
Like a free throw clanging embarrassingly from the front of the rim, the Anaheim Ducks headed into the All-Star break with an woeful 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues at Honda Center in Anaheim Wednesday.
The loss – their 14th in 16 games – dropped the team to a 21-21-9 mark, and tumbled them into fifth play in the NHL Pacific Division and out of a playoff position.
Daniel Sprong gave the Ducks a first period lead, but it was all Blues – in more ways than one – after that. The visitors tied it up in the first period and then went on to score two goals each in the second and third period.
Overall, the Ducks managed only 13 shots on goal.
“They seemed to be a step-and-a-half quicker than we were,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “We scored the first goal, but we were being outshot 8-2 at that point. We just seemed like we were slower than they were. They had more jump and energy, and they owned the puck. We hung our goaltender out to dry.”
Indeed, John Gibson, one of the bright lights of the season this year, was pulled after being besieged for five goals.
The Ducks will get a chance to regroup and hope for a better second half after the break. On Saturday, the all-stars from the Central Division will clash with their counterparts from the Pacific, and it’s be Metro vs. Atlantic in the other semifinal, with the winners meeting in the final.