In need of a bounce-back performance, the Ducks dug deep to finish off their two-game road trip with a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Monday night. The victory came just two nights after they let a two-goal lead slip away in a 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. Special teams once again played a pivotal factor in the game, as the Ducks recorded a power-play goal and a shorthanded goal in the win, while also going 5-for-5 on the penalty kill. But the win didn't come without adversity, as the Ducks had to dig themselves out of a 1-0 deficit and also withstand a push from the Jets late in regulation.
Logan Shaw, Rickard Rakell and Ryan Getzlaf tallied goals for the Ducks, who improved to 27-14-9 (63 points) to remain atop the Pacific Division. Anaheim has won nine games in the month of January (9-2-1) and has points in 14 of the last 16 games overall (10-2-4, 24 points). In addition, the Ducks have won six of the last seven road games (4-1-2, 10 points) and five in a row at MTS Centre dating to Oct. 6, 2013.
Making his 14th start of the season, Jonathan Bernier made 30 saves to improve his record this season to 8-4-1. Bernier's previous start came on January 14 at Arizona, a 26-save shutout performance. The veteran netminder saved his best work for the third period, when he came up big on a late-game penalty kill.
"I thought we played a simple road game," said Bernier. "We found a way to win, and that's what matters. We had a huge PK. The guys blocked a lot of shots. That's how we won the game."
The victory also gave Randy Carlyle his 300th win as head coach of the Ducks (300-196-70, 566 games). "It's big," Getzlaf said of Carlyle's milestone. "Any time you're a part of that kind of history, it's big for the organization. We want the organization to grow that history, and that's a part of that."
Andrew Copp and Nikolaj Ehlers scored for Winnipeg, which saw its two-game winning streak snapped for the ninth different time this season. Ondrej Pavelec made 24 saves in the loss, which dropped Winnipeg record this season to 22-24-4 (48 points).
Winnipeg's speed was on full display early on when Copp flew into the zone uncontested. After receiving a cross-ice pass from Mark Scheifele, Copp used a quick snap shot to beat Bernier for his sixth goal of the season at the 2:14 mark of the first period.
Looking to settle things down, Jared Boll dropped the gloves with Chris Thorburn on the following shift in a heavyweight bout between two players who aren't strangers to fisticuffs. Boll, the penalty-minute leader for Anaheim, won the decisive scrap that ended with two big rights - the first one knocking Thorburn's helmet off and the last one sending the 6-3, 235-pound right wing to the ice.
"Boll's fight was a big thing for us," said Getzlaf. "You can talk about the goals, but [his fight] turned the momentum for us and allowed us to get back into the hockey game after they scored an early goal."
After Kevin Bieksa went to the box for hooking, the Ducks responded with their second shorthanded goal in as many games. After gaining possession of the puck inside his own zone, Cam Fowler used his speed to fly the zone and enter Winnipeg's end with Shaw joining him on the rush. After backing off the Jets defense, Fowler used a low wrist shot that Pavelec saved. Unfortunately for Pavelec, his right-pad stop was kicked into the direction of the oncoming Shaw, who buried the rebound to even the score at the 4:07 mark of the period.
Video: ANA@WIN: Shaw crashes net, pots shorthanded goal
Just 1:25 later, Rakell pushed the Ducks to a 2-1 lead with his 20th goal of the season - an innocent-looking wrist shot that beat Pavelec shortside. The goal represented the second consecutive 20-goal campaign for the 23-year-old Swede, who only needed 39 games to reach that mark this season.
Video: ANA@WPG: Rakell fires a wrister past Pavelec
The Ducks went to the locker room with a dominant performance in the faceoff dot after 20 minutes of play, winning 14 of the 18 draws in the period.
Though the second period was scoreless, it wasn't without its chances from both sides. Anaheim's best chance once again came on the penalty kill when Andrew Cogliano led a 2-on-1 rush with Shaw on the far wing. Cogliano elected to take the shot, which sailed just wide of the far post.
Winnipeg's best opportunity came off the stick of Ehlers, who had a seemingly wide-open net staring him in the face. The pass wasn't in his wheelhouse, however, forcing him to shank his shot wide on the off-wing.
Anaheim tacked on an insurance marker at the 8:48 mark of the third period when Getzlaf tipped Shea Theodore's point shot to put the Ducks up, 3-1. The play started when Theodore corralled a pass at the blueline and used a head-ups shot that skimmed the ice in front of Getzlaf, who changed the angle of his stick blade to beat Pavelec for his seventh goal of the season.
Video: ANA@WPG: Getzlaf tips in Theodore's shot for a PPG
Ehlers found redemption at the 12:53 mark of the third period when he used a burst of speed to blow past the Ducks before going to the backhand for his 17th goal of the season.
Despite pulling Pavelec for an extra attacker with two minutes remaining, the Jets couldn't solve Bernier, who finished the game with 30 saves, including 15 in the third period.
"I felt pretty good," said Bernier. "When you don't play a lot, you want to get the feeling of the first few shots. Unfortunately the second one went in, but I just kept my focus on the game. We played well as a team."
Getzlaf adds, "It wasn't the prettiest game we've played all year, but we're finding ways to get points and wins especially after a tough loss."