ANAHEIM - Even one of the Eastern Conference's best teams couldn't stop the Anaheim Ducks train from rolling down the track.
Anaheim's convincing 4-0 victory over the Washington Capitals tonight at Honda Center bumped the blazing Ducks to 7-1-1 in their last nine games, 11-1-2 in their last 14 and moved them into second place in the Pacific Division for the first time since early October. Washington, which sits atop the Metropolitan Division, had its modest two-game win streak halted as Anaheim got in front early and never looked back.
John Gibson earned his second shutout of the season with 36 saves and continues to lead the NHL in save percentage and ranks second in goals-against average to go along with an 8-1-1 record since the All-Star break.
"We know if we don't win now, our season is over," Gibson said. "There is definitely more pressure, and we hold ourselves to a higher standard."
The Ducks capitalized on a first period Washington penalty when Adam Henrique buried a shot from between the circles, his 20th of the season and 16th since joining the Ducks in late November.
Video: WSH@ANA: Henrique picks the corner for PPG
"I thought we played tight, and when we gave up opportunities, Gibby was there and made big saves at key times for us," Henrique said. "I thought we played a pretty effective simple game. We tried to keep them to the outside. They have a lot of firepower and speed through the neutral zone. It's an area we've been working on."
Anaheim made it 2-0 later in the period on Hampus Lindholm's 10th goal of the year (tying a career high), a wrister from the point that deflected off defenseman Michal Kempny before beating goalie Braden Holtby.
Video: WSH@ANA: Lindholm threads home a long wrister
A bit of artistry from Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell gave Anaheim a 3-0 lead 5 1/2 minutes into the second, as Getzlaf recovered a loose puck before making a cross-ice feed to Rakell, who sniped one top shelf from the left wing. It was Rakell's fourth straight game with a goal (six total over that span) and it chased Holtby to the bench for the third time in the last six.
Video: WSH@ANA: Rakell goes top shelf to extend the lead
"He was telling me after the game I was yelling too much for the puck," Rakell said of Getzlaf with a chuckle. "He's a great passer and I'm just trying to be open."
Nick Ritchie put a lid on it with a minute and a half left in the third, skating the puck into the empty Capitals net after they sent substitute goalie Philipp Grubauer to the bench for an extra attacker.
"It seemed like we had things going our way," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "There was a little bit of a hangover from the opposition's perspective off the [Stadium Series] game. I don't think we saw the true Capitals team tonight. They're usually a lot sharper with the puck. I didn't think they had their "A" game tonight. You could see the frustration in some of their players."
The Ducks will look to keep it going with a quick two-game trip to Nashville (which just won its ninth straight) on Thursday and Dallas on Friday before returning home to face St. Louis on Monday.