EDMONTON - The Anaheim Ducks are rolling.
And while there is still a lot of hockey left to be played, the Ducks suddenly look favoured to come out on top of the toughest division in the NHL.
With Sunday’s 4-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers, the Ducks leapfrogged over both the San Jose Sharks and Phoenix Coyotes in the Pacific Division standings.
They are now tied with the Dallas Stars for top spot, although they’ve played two more games than the Texans.
“I think we’ve been able to find our identity as a team,” said Ducks forward Bobby Ryan, who tallied twice against the Oilers.
“When (Ryan) Getzlaf went down, guys had to step up in different directions. Guys did that in a lot of different ways and when you’re on a roll like that, the moral is already up when you get your captain back.”
Getzlaf had been out of the lineup since Dec. 28 with multiple sinus fractures after taking a puck in the face in a game against the Coyotes.
Last night was his third game back.
Despite Getzlaf missing 14 games, the Ducks were able to put together an impressive run. The win over Edmonton was their 14th in their last 18 games.
“We’ve continued to out-work teams and Getzlaf has been able to add to that,” Ryan said.
“Going forward, that’s going to be a critical thing for us to continue.”
Getzlaf earned assists on both of Ryan’s goals last night.
The Ducks were able to win all three games of their swing through Western Canada, also knocking off the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames.
It’s a feat they’ve only been able to accomplish twice in 13 attempts.
“I think that speaks volumes of the team we have in here,” Ryan said.
“We had a couple of situations that were hairy in the last three games but we were able to battle through it.”
ICE CHIPS: Former Oilers defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky has racked up 57 points in 71 games since being dealt to the Ducks last season for Ryan Whitney. ... Edmonton is now a league-worst 7-17-4 at home. The Oilers are 0-6-1 in their last seven games at Rexall Place.