In the words of the late, great Etta James, "Attttt lasssttttttt."
A winless streak that reached 12 consecutive games finally ended tonight when the Ducks defeated the Minnesota Wild, 3-0, at the Xcel Energy Center on Thursday night. The win came exactly one month to the day of their last victory on December 17 in Pittsburgh. Unlike in recent shortcomings, there weren't any blown leads tonight. There weren't any letdowns. There weren't any disappointments. Instead, the Ducks collectively rose to the challenge by jumping out to a 3-0 lead within the first eight minutes of the game.
They scored their first two goals in an 11-second span, their quickest set of goals since they scored twice in a nine-second span on March 24, 2016 at Toronto. At times tonight, the Ducks bent. But unlike recent games, they didn't break. They leaned on John Gibson (37 saves) to preserve their lead, and the Vezina-worthy goaltender provided multiple highlight-reel stops late in the second period and again midway through the third.
"We just all came together," said Gibson, who earned his second shutout of the season and the 18th of his career. "Any time you lose that many games in a row, it's a test to anyone's character and the will to win. We finally came together and said 'Enough is enough.'"
Video: ANA@MIN: Henrique and Rakell score 11 seconds apart
They chased starting goaltender Alex Stalock after scoring three goals on their first eight shots. Each time, a different Duck found the back of the net. It started with Adam Henrique, who sent a seeing-eye wrist shot into the left side of the net just 3:57 into the game. Then on the following shift, Rickard Rakell buried Devin Shore's rebound 11 seconds after Henrique's goal. Brian Gibbons tacked on the club's third goal when he got a tip on Andy Welinski's point shot to give the Ducks a well-deserved three-goal lead. It all happened so fast. And it marked their second victory via shutout this season, the first since the second game of the season back on Oct. 6 at Arizona (1-0 W).
Video: ANA@MIN: Gibbons deflects one by Stalock
The Ducks looked like a completely different team than the one that trudged through a month-long winless drought. And on paper, it was a far different Ducks team. It had rookies Troy Terry and Max Jones inserted into the lineup after the two were recalled from the San Diego Gulls. Tonight marked the NHL debut for Jones, who skated alongside Terry and Derek Grant, who the Ducks acquired last night from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Grant set career highs across the board last season with the Ducks, but signed a one-year contract with the Penguins in the offseason.
Confidence goes a long way in this game. Over the course of the past month it was evident the Ducks lacked that key component. They found ways to lose and it hovered over their heads like a dark cloud. But tonight, after jumping out to a quick lead and protecting it for the remainder of the game, that cloud began to break apart. The weight of the world finally lifted off their shoulders.
The Ducks will continue their five-game road trip on Saturday morning when they take on the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.