After laying waste to the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday night, the Anaheim Ducks are reaching uncharted territory.
Currently on a 20-0-2 run, Anaheim’s 9-1 dusting of the visiting Canucks was its eighth consecutive home win and 18th victory in 19 games.
The Ducks are the first NHL team since the 1967-68 Canadiens to win 18 times over a 19-game stretch.
"I try not to pay attention to that," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau told NHL.com. "I really don't because it gets in your head. We're just trying to win games.”
He’s already tossed out Wednesday night's result.
“We wanted to make sure that nobody's head gets swelled," Boudreau said. "You take it for what it was: An unfortunate game by Vancouver and I'm sure that their next opponent is going to pay for that."
Next up for the Ducks is a meeting with the NHL’s second-best team, the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Ducks (36-8-5, 77 points) currently lead the ‘Hawks by six points atop the Western Conference.
STAMKOS CONTINUES RECOVERY
Steven Stamkos’ recovery from a broken right tibia took another step forward Thursday.
Hoping to return in time for next month’s Olympic Games, the Tampa Bay Lightning centre joined his teammates for a full morning skate ahead of Thursday night’s game against the visiting New York Islanders.
"It's obviously not a practice," Stamkos told reporters, "but to be able to do some drills with the guys is definitely a positive."
Stamkos hasn’t played since suffering the leg injury in a Nov. 11 meeting with the Boston Bruins.
Before his injury, Stamkos was off to a flying start, collecting 23 points (14 goals, nine assists) in 17 games.
"There is still pain," Stamkos said. "There is still hesitation in certain movements, like the cross-over and turns. Anything that puts more torque on the leg is a sensitive area. But it definitely has improved."
After including Stamkos in his 25-man Olympic roster last week, Team Canada and Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he’s hoping X-rays over the next few weeks will see the 23-year-old complete his rehab prior to Sochi.
CHARA CARRYING FLAG
Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien confirmed Thursday that Zdeno Chara will serve as Slovakia’s flag bearer at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
The Bruins defenceman will be competing in his third Olympics after guiding Slovakia to a fourth-place finish in Vancouver four years ago.
Julien told CSN New England that as a result of the honour, Chara could miss two games prior to the National Hockey League’s Olympic break.
The Bruins play in St. Louis Feb. 6 before hosting the Ottawa Senators two days later.
The Olympics begin Feb. 7.
Slovakia enters the 2014 Olympic tournament in Group A alongside Slovenia, the U.S. and hosts Russia.
BEGIN TWEETS RETIREMENT
Steve Begin is at the end.
Following a 16-year career, the 35-year-old centre announced his retirement in a tweet Thursday. He mentioned health concerns as the main reason for hanging up his skates.
“Yesterday the doc gave me sad news,” Begin wrote. “I won't have the chance to be back playing this year. This news sadly puts an end to my hockey career. Yes, for the first time I will listen to my body.”
He didn’t specify the injury concerns he’s facing.
During his career, Begin appeared in 524 regular-season games, accumulating 56 goals and 52 assists.
He was taken 40th overall in the 1996 draft by the Calgary Flames.
He also had stints with the Montreal Canadiens, Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators.
BRIEFLY: The Phoenix Coyotes placed defenceman Rostislav Klesla on waivers, according to multiple reports.