GLENDALE, AZ -- Knowing they'll need to find ways to close out games in any fashion, the Ducks collectively locked it down on Saturday night in the form of a 3-0 victory over the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. Their commitment to defense was evident from start to finish against a Coyotes team that was coming off a victory of their own last night.
Making his first start since December 20, Jonathan Bernier recorded his first shutout as a Duck and the 13th of his career. Bernier's last shutout came on March 13, 2016 at Detroit as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. His 26-save performance also keeps the Ducks atop the Pacific Division with a 24-13-8 record (56 points). Hampus Lindholm, Nick Ritchie and Ryan Kesler scored for Anaheim, which has won six of its past seven games (6-1-0) and earned standings points in 10 of the past 11 contests (7-1-3).
"It was a great win for us on the road, especially having the siblings," said Bernier, referring to the team's first-ever Siblings Trip. "My brother couldn't come, but my mom is here. It makes it even more special."
Defenseman Kevin Bieksa adds, "When you don't play in a long time like that, you have to work harder in practice, stay sharp and put in the extra time, and he does that. He's a great teammate and a great professional. Everybody in this room couldn't be happier for him tonight."
Louis Domingue made 19 saves in the loss, which dropped Arizona's overall record this season to 13-23-6 (32 points).
With a heavy Ducks presence in the stands, Lindholm gave them a chance to celebrate at the 5:56 mark of the first period when he corralled a cross-ice feed from Ryan Getzlaf in the high slot and wired a laser into the upper portion of the net. The shot hit the twine with such authority that it bounced right out. The play continued until an icing call allowed for a replay of the goal. Upon review, the goal was confirmed - much to the delight of road-heavy crowd. Lindholm's younger sister, Malin, is among the dozen or so brothers and sisters on the club's first-ever Siblings Trip, which began on Thursday night in Colorado.
Video: ANA@ARI: Lindholm wrists puck top shelf past Domingue
Though the middle frame didn't provide anything in the form of scoring, it featured several near-misses for Anaheim, none better than Ryan Kesler's chip-shot that sailed over a seemingly wide-open net.
Bernier's best save in the second period came with under four minutes remaining when he made a kick-save on Brendan Perlini, who flew into the zone to chase down an errant outlet pass with Shea Theodore hounding him from behind. Bernier's save left a rebound between the circles that Kevin Bieksa managed to swat away after sprawling stomach-first on the ice to cut off a lane.
"He was solid in net," said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle. "When things are going his way, there's not a lot of second and third chances. And if there were some tonight, our defense did a good job of limiting those opportunities. It's great for a guy who had his mother on the [siblings] trip."
After the puck dropped to begin the third period, it took all of 35 seconds for the Ducks to double their lead. What seemed like a harmless clearing attempt down the ice from Ondrej Kase resulted in a lively bounce off the endboards - one that Domingue couldn't corral as it made its way into the slot. Not giving up on the play, Ritchie hustled his way to the loose puck before tucking it five-hole for his 10th goal of the season.
Video: ANA@ARI: Ritchie taps one five-hole past Domingue
"We dumped it in and I was the only guy forechecking," said Ritchie. "The puck came out. I don't know if [Domingue] missed it, but he wasn't in position so I just shot it in. It was a lucky break that got us a two-goal lead and helped us get a win."
Bernier saved his best work for last, when he made several high-quality stops in tight with the Coyotes forcing the issue late in regulation. "We're playing really well," Bernier said. "We take more pride in how we play defensively, and it really pays off. We find ways to score at the right time. It's so hard to score in this league, but you're going to take every goal you can. That was a great win."
Kesler put the game on ice when he scored his team-leading 18th goal of the season into an empty net to give the Ducks a 3-0 lead with 21 seconds remaining in regulation.
Video: ANA@ARI: Kesler bags an empty-netter to seal the game
The Ducks will have little time to rest, as they conclude the second half of back-to-backs tomorrow night at home against the St. Louis Blues.