It will take special resolve for the Ducks to reach where they're aiming.
So Thursday's 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre was something they'll want to remember.
Coming off a lopsided loss in Toronto, confronting a tie game in front of a packed road crowd hoping to cap a special evening with a victory, Ducks forward Matt Beleskey scored the deciding goal 8 minutes 33 seconds into the third period.
And goalie Frederik Andersen, playing in his 20th consecutive game with his team on the seventh night of a Canadian trip, turned in perhaps his strongest performance with a 23-save effort.
"That's a tough hockey team, we're on a long trip, but I was real impressed by how we came out in the first period after all that emotion that went into that pregame show," Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf said. "Pretty impressive."
The game was preceded by an emotional retirement ceremony honoring Saku Koivu, the Canadiens captain from 1999 to 2009 who overcame cancer and closed his career with the Ducks.
Koivu, in addition to telling the crowd he'll "always be a Hab at heart," told the Ducks he "really enjoyed playing for an unbelievably great team."
The talent that has Anaheim (22-7-5) leading the NHL in points showed on a first-period faceoff won by Getzlaf and gathered by Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm, who launched a shot past shielded Montreal goalie Carey Price.
Montreal (20-11-2) responded strongly in the second period with center Tomas Plekanec and Brandon Prust getting one-on-one looks at Andersen. The Canadiens took the first six shots of the period. But they didn't score.
Andersen gloved a long-distance try through traffic by defenseman Tom Gilbert, deflected a low point-blank attempt by forward Jiri Sekac, and stopped a blast behind the faceoff circles by P.K. Subban.
A frantic save on Brendan Gallagher then came when Andersen lost his stick scrambling to keep the puck out.
"When they were taking it to us a little bit, he was at the top of his game," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "And when he's at the top of his game, he's as good as there is."
Andersen said he did drills after giving up four goals in the Ducks' 6-2 Tuesday loss to stop "chasing the puck … that helped me be really calm today. … I let the puck hit me."
The game turned testy in the third, with Ducks defenseman Clayton Stoner delivering a hit that knocked Montreal's leading scorer Max Pacioretty to the bottom of the glass and out of the game with an upper-body injury.
"Their team wasn't happy about it," Stoner said. "I didn't mean to hurt him. The game's fast. Sometimes guys go into the boards wrong."
Minutes later, Ducks forward Patrick Maroon was called for interference and the Canadiens capitalized with David Desharnais taking a cross-ice pass and beating a shifting Andersen.
The Ducks' response was a lockdown. Montreal had only five third-period shots on goal.
"We talk about playing the same way," Beleskey said, "keep grinding, going at them."
Four seconds after a power play expired, Ducks center Rickard Rakell weaved the puck toward the goal, recovered it, then passed to Beleskey, who scored his team-best 15th goal.
"We needed this game," Beleskey said. "Good bounce-back win."
When: 4:30 p.m. PST.
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 830.