Two months into the season, the Anaheim Ducks appeared to be in grave danger of missing the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Since Christmas, however, the Ducks are 25-4-2. And with their franchise-record 11th consecutive win Saturday, a 3-2 victory against the Los Angeles Kings, they are in first place in the Pacific Division and five points off the Western Conference lead.
Anaheim goes for win No. 12 when it hosts the NHL-leading Washington Capitals at Honda Center on Monday (10 p.m. ET; SNE, SNO, CSN-DC, PRIME, FS-SD, NHL.TV).
"That's the position we want to be in. We're not satisfied," forward Rickard Rakell told the Ducks website. "We want to keep the momentum going. The team is coming together. We have four lines that play solid hockey. It must be tough to match up against us."
Especially when the Ducks are on the power play. Over the course of their winning streak, Anaheim is 19-for-42 with the man-advantage (45.2 percent).
"We talk before the game and said the team that wins the special teams is probably going to win this game," Rakell told the Orange County Register after the Ducks' latest win. "It was right this time. Any time you can get help from your power play, I think it's going to help you win games."
Video: Anaheim Ducks: 11 Games, 11 Straight Wins
Here are other games that should garner plenty of attention:
Monday, March 7: Tampa Bay Lightning at Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m. ET; SNE, SNO, SNP, TVA Sports, SUN, CSN-PH, NHL.TV) -- Tampa Bay is also scorching hot; the Lightning have won a franchise-record nine in a row and have a two-point lead on the Florida Panthers for first in the Atlantic Division. "It's special," center Tyler Johnson told the Lightning website. "You're part of the team that can do that, it's obviously pretty special. But at the same time, you've got to look at one game at a time. It doesn't really matter what we did [Saturday] when we play Philly. We've just got to focus on that now. It's kind of a weird thing; you've got to be proud of it, but at the same time you've got to forget about it [Monday]."
Monday, March 7: Boston Bruins at Florida Panthers (7:30 p.m. ET; NESN, FS-F, NHL.TV) -- Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr will attempt to pass Gordie Howe for third place on the NHL's all-time scoring list. Jagr tied Howe last Thursday when he got his 1,850th point during a 3-2 loss at the Colorado Avalanche. He was held without a point Saturday in a 5-1 loss at the Arizona Coyotes. One point separates the Bruins and Panthers in the Atlantic Division.
Tuesday, March 8: Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Islanders (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SNO, SNP, ROOT) -- The Islanders return home after going 6-1-0 on a seven-game road trip that concluded with a 6-4 win at the New York Rangers on Sunday. The Penguins have won four of their past six games and trail the Islanders by three points for third place in the Metropolitan Division; New York has two games in hand.
Tuesday, March 8: Nashville Predators at Winnipeg Jets (8 p.m. ET; FS-TN, TSN3, NHL.TV) -- Nashville enters with a 12-game point streak (8-0-4) and is six points clear for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. "When you're going out there, you've just got to win a period," coach Peter Laviolette told the Predators website. "You don't think about the scoreboard or whether you're behind, if you can just win a period, you can win a game; you might get to overtime, you get a point, you get something."
Wednesday, March 9: Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports) -- Chicago is hoping to have forward Marian Hossa in the lineup for the first time since he sustained a lower-body injury Feb. 13. Hossa is four goals shy of 500 in his career. Two points separate first and third place in the Central Division.
Sunday, March 13: Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers (12:30 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports) -- There will be a nationally televised audience for this matinee at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers should have goalie Henrik Lundqvist back in the fold; he did not play against the Islanders on Sunday because of neck spasms. New York coach Alain Vigneault said Lundqvist is day-to-day.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche -- Landeskog scored a goal Saturday and has at least a point in six of his past eight games (three multipoint performances). He is four points behind Matt Duchene for the Avalanche lead in scoring.
Derek Stepan, New York Rangers -- Stepan got an assist Sunday and has a point in four of his past five games. He had a goal and an assist in a 3-2 win at Washington on Friday.
Video: NYR@WSH: Stepan fires puck off defender for the lead
Cam Talbot, Edmonton Oilers -- Talbot made 39 saves to win his fourth straight start Sunday, a 2-1 victory at the Winnipeg Jets. Talbot has allowed one or fewer goals in each of the starts and has a .979 save percentage over that stretch.
James Reimer, San Jose Sharks -- Reimer allowed three goals on 25 shots in his Sharks debut Saturday, a 4-2 loss against the Vancouver Canucks at SAP Center. Each of the three goals was scored while the Canucks were on the power play.
"His first game, I think the guys' hearts are in the right place, everyone wanted to play a good game for him," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "It was one of those games where we were short most of the night. We didn't get the job done on the penalty kill for him."
Brett Ritchie, Dallas Stars -- Ritchie was promoted by the Stars after he had 28 points in 35 games for Texas of the American Hockey League. On Friday, the 22-year-old skated on the Stars' top line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Ritchie did not have a point but did have a game-high eight hits in the 4-2 win against New Jersey.
"Great spark," Dallas coach Lindy Ruff told the Stars website. "I think his energy and excitement about playing, and I think he got them a little bit off their game. Just the fact that every time he was out there they knew that he was coming. I thought he was a big asset on the right side with those guys. He was first in and separating the other guy from the puck. I thought he did a great job on the walls. It's one thing to get here and do it, but now you've got to do it on a consistent basis. But I thought he gave us a really good night."
Brock Nelson, New York Islanders -- Nelson scored his 22nd goal of the season Sunday, when he was moved back to left wing on the top line with John Tavares and Ryan Strome. It was Nelson's first goal since Feb. 15, a span of eight games.
Predators forward Filip Forsberg has 16 points during Nashville's 12-game point streak. He has 26 goals since Nov. 27. … Toronto Maple Leafs forward Brooks Laich assisted on William Nylander's first NHL goal Saturday. Laich, acquired by the Maple Leafs from the Washington Capitals on Feb. 29, assisted on the final NHL goal for Michael Nylander, William's father, on April 5, 2009. "I don't know if that places me in the category of a cousin or an uncle," Laich said. … Stars center Jason Spezza scored against his former team, the Ottawa Senators, on Sunday. He has a goal against every team in the NHL.