Ducks clinch di­vi­sion ti­tle

Sil­fver­berg gets three as­sists, Perry gets 600th goal, and team gets more mo­men­tum.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Kevin Bax­ter kevin.bax­ter@la­times.com

There’s lit­tle cel­e­brat­ing, as Ana­heim looks to keep mo­men­tum into post­sea­son.

DUCKS 5 ED­MON­TON 1

With Wed­nes­day’s 5-1 win over the Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers, the Ducks got a lot of book­keep­ing de­tails out of the way.

The victory gave them a third con­sec­u­tive Pa­cific Di­vi­sion ti­tle, as­sured home-ice ad­van­tage through the first two rounds of the play­offs and in­creased their ad­van­tage over Nashville and the New York Rangers in the battle for the NHL’s best record.

But there were no cham­pagne baths, no dog­piles at cen­ter ice and no locker room cel­e­bra­tions when it was over. That’s be­cause for Coach Bruce Boudreau, those aren’t mile­stones so much as they are step­ping­stones.

De­spite their re­cent suc­cess, the Ducks haven’t gone be­yond the West­ern Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nals since 2007, when they won their only Stan­ley Cup. So any­thing short of the con­fer­ence fi­nals this sea­son won’t re­ally be con­sid­ered progress.

“I hope it’s an ex­pec­ta­tion. We cer­tainly want big­ger and bet­ter things for our group,” said Boudreau, whose four sea­sons with the Ducks have all ended in losses. “They know what it feels like to win. And they know what it feels like to lose. The feel­ing to win is an aw­ful lot nicer than the other one. But there’s also a price to pay. That’s got to be such a pri­or­ity.”

The Ducks know when and where their play­off jour­ney will begin, but the rest of the NHL play­off pic­ture is so mud­dled they may not know who they will be play­ing for an­other nine days.

The Ducks cer­tainly like how they’re play­ing, though, with Wed­nes­day’s re­sult giv­ing them four straight wins and eight in their last 10 games. Against the Oil­ers they shared the wealth, with five play­ers scor­ing — three of them with help from Jakob Sil­fver­berg, who had a sin­glegame high for as­sists.

Fran­cois Beau­chemin got the rout started, scor­ing on the Ducks’ first shot of the night less than four min­utes into the game. The Ducks dou­bled the lead six min­utes later af­ter Ed­mon­ton’s Justin Schultz left the puck be­hind his own goal line, al­low­ing Sil­fver­berg to pick it up and feed Nate Thomp­son for the score.

Mid­way into the sec­ond pe­riod, Corey Perry, try­ing for a cen­ter­ing pass, had the puck knocked right back on his stick by Oil­ers de­fense­man Keith Aulie. Perry redi­rected that gift into the net for his 33rd goal of the sea­son and the 600th point of his NHL ca­reer.

Simon De­spres made it 4-0 a short time later with a long slap shot from along the left boards be­fore Ryan Nu­gent-Hop­kins fi­nally got a score for Ed­mon­ton. The Ducks closed out the game on a penalty shot by An­drew Cogliano 5:14 into the third pe­riod.

The goal now is to keep that mo­men­tum go­ing.

“We have to keep grind­ing,” Cogliano agreed. “This is the most im­por­tant time for the team to play well and keep mov­ing for­ward. Be­cause you just can’t turn the switch on in the play­offs.”

The Ducks claimed an­other mile­stone, with their 50th victory giv­ing them con­sec­u­tive 50-win sea­sons for the first time in fran­chise his­tory. The last NHL team to do that was Van­cou­ver in 2011-12.

Not that it was worth cel­e­brat­ing then ei­ther. The Canucks lost in the con­fer­ence quar­ter­fi­nals that year.

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