The Ducks usually don’t keep a finger on the pulse of the Eastern Conference, outside of catching the final scores on the bottom scroll of the television highlights.
But some numbers on that feed have made their fingers hit the pause button. The Washington Capitals have scored at least five goals in 10 straight home games, a red-lighted run accomplished once before in NHL history, by the 1970-71 Boston Bruins.
“I don’t look at the scores too much,” Antoine Vermette said. “I think, offensively, they’ve been a success.”
That Bruins team, led by Phil Esposito’s record 76 goals and Bobby Orr’s record 102 assists, scored five goals in 11 consecutive home games. The Ducks will try to avoid being a part of that history Saturday against the league-leading Capitals in the stiffest test yet of their trip.
Defense is a huge part of the Ducks’ identity this season, from their shutdown line led by Ryan Kesler to the goaltending of John Gibson. They mixed up their lines Thursday, though, to stimulate offense and it worked in a 5-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres.
Corey Perry was reunited with Rickard Rakell and Perry scored twice. He had two goals in the previous 25 games. Kesler’s line had Logan Shaw at right wing, with Jakob Silfverberg on the top line with Vermette and Ryan Getzlaf.
However the Ducks line up Saturday, they have their work cut out at both ends. Washington allows an NHL-low 2.05 goals-per game, and goalie Braden Holtby has wins in his last 13 decisions.
“It’s a big challenge,” Vermette said. “You better come up and be ready, especially against these guys with their record at home. They’re the best team right now. They’re the best in the league. It’s going to be a strong matchup.”
In terms of measuring-stick games, the Ducks mostly have been on the wrong end of the ruler. They haven’t fared well against some of the top teams this season, having gone 0-4 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Minnesota Wild and 0-1-1 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. They lost their earlier matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Thursday’s win did partially mend a 1-2-1 trip on multiple fronts. Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle still was not feeling well Friday from an illness, but did Thursday’s win spark any improvement?
“He looked good,” Vermette said. “He was smiling. He was laughing.”
DUCKS NEXT UP
When: Saturday, 4:30 p.m. PST.
On the air: TV: FSW; Radio: 830.
Update: Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen skated but doesn’t appear ready yet to return from a lower-body injury. … Washington forward Andre Burakovsky is out until mid-to-late March because of a hand injury, Capitals Coach Barry Trotz told reporters Friday.
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