There's never a dull moment around the Ducks, whether they're battling mumps, injuries that have thinned their defense, or a power play that mustered one goal in eight games before clicking twice Sunday and looking like nothing had ever been amiss.
The Ducks captured the essence of their season in their 4-3 overtime victory over the scrappy Winnipeg Jets at the rollicking MTS Centre on Sunday. Instead of lamenting the missing defensemen and hoping someone picks up the slack while Corey Perry awaits word on the left knee injury he sustained Friday, they clawed forward to extend their winning streak to four and stay atop the West.
"Our group has shown that all year, that we've been able to go through things and just keep playing," said center Ryan Getzlaf, whose three-assist performance included setting up Kyle Palmieri for the below-the-goal line winner 53 seconds into sudden-death play. "Good or bad, the one thing we've done is play a lot of overtime games this year."
Sunday's triumph was their league-leading 11th excursion past regulation and improved their record to 6-5 in overtime and shootouts. Had they held the lead in the third period, they wouldn't have had to press their luck. The Jets pulled even with 4:45 left in the third period when defenseman Jacob Trouba swept in his own rebound against Frederik Andersen, who left many rebounds but emerged a winner in his 15th straight start.
"We've got to learn to close those out a little better," Getzlaf said.
Still, they rolled on, getting surprise boosts from winger Rene Bourque's first goal in eight games as a Duck and a goal by right wing Jakob Silfverberg, who surely led the NHL in chances-not-converted but has now scored in two straight games.
The effort fit the image Ryan Kesler has formed of the Ducks since they acquired him from Vancouver last summer. "A team that has a lot of character, a team that's never out of it, a team that always fights and claws no matter what the score is," he said. "I saw that from Game 1 on. We're never out of games.
"Saying that, we like to make it hard on ourselves, too. We like to take games to overtime. But I think we're getting better in all areas of our game still."
The Ducks scored first, on Bourque's power-play shot from the slot at 11:02 of the first period, but the Jets responded with a power-play goal at 14:28, when Dustin Byfuglien finished a give-and-go with former Duck Mathieu Perreault. The Jets took a 2-1 lead at 1:33 of the second period during a power play that carried over from the opening period, with Andrew Ladd converting a rebound.
"We get more awake when the other team gets the lead, it seems," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We were sleepwalking a little bit when they made it 2-1. I thought for the rest of the second, that's when we stepped it up and played a pretty good second period."
They pulled even on Silfverberg's redirection of a shot by Clayton Stoner at 4:35 and took a 3-2 lead at 8:53 of the second period on Kesler's one-timer during a four-on-three advantage. Trouba sent the game to overtime, but Palmieri ended it by sneaking a shot past Ondrej Pavelec.
"I took a quick look at the net and I saw him down on his post, so I just tried to get it up," Palmieri said. "I was lucky enough to put it up inside the bar."
The Ducks were lucky and good Sunday, but Andersen appears to be tiring and is leaving too many fat rebounds. But Boudreau isn't comfortable starting backup Igor Bobkov, Ilya Bryzgalov is still on a tryout, and Jason LaBarbera and John Gibson are injured.
"Jonathan Quick is great at it, knowing where to leave the rebounds where his players are," Boudreau said of the Kings' stellar goalie. "I don't know if Freddie's thinking along those terms."
Andersen said there's only one pitfall to playing so often: being asked about it constantly. "That's the hard part," he said. "It's fun."
Winning makes it more enjoyable, and the way the Ducks have done it has never been dull.