Ducks clinch third straight division title with 5-1 rout of Oilers

Ducks rout Oilers, 5-1, to clinch their third consecutive Pacific Division title

 

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 Ducks' Coach Bruce Boudreau, those aren't milestones so much as they are stepping stones.

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 single-game 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.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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