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Poor starts plaguing Ducks during losing streak

By in Press Enterprise on November 29, 2017

By Eric Stephens

ST. LOUIS — Chris Wagner couldn’t celebrate the most productive night in his NHL career. In fact, the grinding center could only grit his way through a postgame interview.

Wagner was fuming. Any advancement that was made in their overall game following last week’s pratfall against Vegas disappeared Monday night in Chicago, where the Ducks were on the receiving end of a 7-3 thumping by the Blackhawks for their fourth consecutive loss.

His first two-goal game became an afterthought. Instead, Wagner was the latest among the Ducks to come up with his best explanation for another bad start that saw them down 3-0 after one period. Just two games prior, Winnipeg put them in a 2-0 hole after five minutes that they couldn’t dig out of.

“Maybe we played pretty well last game (against the Kings) and think it’s going to be easy,” Wagner said. “Maybe we’re just – I don’t know why we wouldn’t be mentally ready. There’s no rhyme or reason.”

The Ducks should know by now that nothing will come easy. Little comes easy for them even when they’re at full strength, which they are decidedly not. But the group they do have – which includes a defense corps that’s now intact – was again dominated from the outset.

While they’ve only been outscored 22-19 in first periods, the Ducks have scored first in just 10 of their 24 games. They’ve emerged with a 6-1-3 record when doing so. And they’re built more to protect leads than mount rallies.

Working with that early lead is ideal but they’ve simply got to be on even footing to start. They haven’t outshot an opponent in the first period since Nov. 20 in San Jose. Chicago had a 16-7 shot advantage in building its three-goal lead.

“We can keep talking about it until the cows come home […]    

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