If the Ducks are going to make a serious bid at winning a second consecutive NHL Pacific Division championship, closing their current four-game home stand with victories over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday and the Dallas Stars on Tuesday might almost be considered a must.
Martin St. Louis(notes), Having played 46 games, the most of any team in the NHL, the Ducks' point total is somewhat misleading because every other team in the Western Conference has more opportunity to gain points during the remainder of the season. By the time the Sharks arrive in Anaheim, for example, they will have played only 43 games, giving them a significant edge on the Ducks.
The Stars, who figure to be the other team in contention for the Pacific Division title, will have played the same number of games as the Ducks when the teams square off Tuesday, but after that, the Ducks will face another huge challenge, with 12 of their ensuing 13 games on the road.
Given that unfriendly schedule, which includes a daunting eight-game trip after the All-Star break, the Ducks definitely need to gain points at home against their primary division rivals. The Ducks are 4-0-1 against San Jose this season, with two of those victories having come in shootouts, but 0-3 against Dallas, with another matchup against the Stars set for Jan. 20 in the Lone Star State.
The Ducks, 8-2-2 in their past 12 games after Wednesday night's 5-0 victory over visiting Toronto, will have been idle for three days, so they figure to get something of a scheduling break Sunday against the Sharks. San Jose will be playing a third game in four nights, including the tail end of a back-to-back situation after having faced the visiting Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
Ducks 5, Maple Leafs 0: Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere(notes) turned aside 28 shots to record his second shutout of the season and the 27th of his career, all of which have come with the Ducks, to tie the franchise record established by Guy Hebert. The Ducks seized control with first-period goals by Todd Bertuzzi(notes) and Corey Perry(notes), and then put the game away in the third period when Brandon Bochenski(notes) scored his first goal in three games with the Ducks, and Doug Weight(notes) and Chris Kunitz(notes) added power-play strikes. Bertuzzi, Perry and Ryan Getzlaf(notes), who stretched his scoring streak to a career-high nine games, finished with two assists apiece, and Weight became just the fifth U.S.-born player in history to reach 700 career assists.
• With Wednesday's 5-0 triumph over the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Ducks have won a season-high five consecutive home games, their longest run at Honda Center since putting together a six-game winning streak from Feb. 25 through March 11 of last season. The Ducks also have gained points in six consecutive home games (5-0-1).
• With two assists in Wednesday's 5-0 victory over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs, Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf stretched his scoring streak to a career-high nine games. Getzlaf's run is the longest by a Ducks player since former Ducks center Andy McDonald(notes) recorded points in 11 consecutive games from Jan. 23-Feb. 12, 2006. Getzlaf has four goals and eight assists during the streak, which is tied with Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby(notes) for the longest current run in the NHL.
Quote To Note: "Who knew? I don't play to get shutouts. It's nice when you get one, but I think it's a team thing more than anything else. We're starting to get something going here, something positive. Offensively, we've been scoring some big goals. The power play has been better as of late. The (penalty kill) has been really strong. So all parts of our game seem to be working well right now. We're going to need a lot of games like that coming up." -- Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, after stopping 28 shots in Wednesday's 5-0 victory over Toronto to tie Guy Hebert's club record with his 27th career shutout.
First Line: Todd Bertuzzi, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry.
Second Line: Chris Kunitz, Doug Weight, Brandon Bochenski.
• RW Bobby Ryan(notes) was assigned to American League affiliate Portland, Maine. Ryan, 20, has three goals and five points in 13 games with the Ducks this season, including two goals and two assists in nine games since having been recalled from the Pirates on Dec. 15, but had been a healthy scratch in the previous two games.
• LW Alex Ovechkin was blanked but still led the team with five shots on goal.
- Ryan Getzlaf