ANAHEIM - While they were combatants in a spirited First Round playoff battle four seasons ago, the Ducks and Winnipeg Jets are going in opposite directions these days.
Anaheim will most likely miss the postseason for the first time in seven seasons, while the Jets own the top spot in the Central Division and are third in the Western Conference. Tonight they got that much closer to a second straight playoff appearance with a 3-0 blanking of the Ducks at Honda Center.
It was a fourth straight win for the Jets and a setback for Anaheim, which came into the night playing some good hockey with victories in three of its last four. It also gave the Jets a three-game sweep of the season series, with the first two coming in Winnipeg, including a 9-3 rout on February 2.
Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck earned his first shutout of the season tonight in stopping all 29 shots by the Ducks, who didn't get off the first one until the halfway point of the opening period. To their credit, the Ducks held Winnipeg to just 23 shots - despite facing six power plays - but the Jets made the most of them.
"We definitely had our chances," said Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg, who went without a point for just the second time in the last 10 games. "We should've scored at least one or two and the game would've been different. At the end of the night, we took too many penalties. It's tough killing a lot of penalties. Tough to get a rhythm going with all four lines when you're doing that."
Winnipeg's fourth-ranked power play came through with four minutes left in the first when the puck bounded off the end boards and it was tapped to Mark Scheifele, who shot it over a prone John Gibson.
"I thought we came out and played pretty well," Ducks defenseman Josh Manson said. "I thought we commanded five on five. We got into a little bit of penalty trouble, and they scored one late in the first period. Other than that, I didn't think our game was that bad. We traded chances. Our third man was working well. They were turning pucks over and we were creating [chances] in the zone."
Anaheim had a handful of chances to tie it but couldn't do it, instead falling in a 2-0 hole on a Kyle Connor tip 4 1/2 minutes into the third.
Winnipeg added to it less than two minutes later on a miscue by Gibson, who let a Nikolaj Ehlers shot from a sharp angle hit him in the back and carom in the net.
"The compete and effort was there," said Ducks assistant coach Marty Wilford. "They got a couple lucky bounces on their goals and we couldn't find the back of the net. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, penalties took us out of rhythm. Tough to stay in the game when you take a lot of penalties like that."
The Ducks take on the Sharks on Friday night at Honda Center before playing the next four on the road to close out the month of March.