The Ducks needed Wednesday's game badly.
Their six-game road swing, their longest of the season so far, was against incredibly tough competition, and the results showed.
Anaheim emerged victorious in only one game (over the St. Louis Blues), but the Ducks picked up points in three others.
With the calendar flipped to December, it isn't too early to start examining the pecking order in the Western Conference.
And one quick glance will tell you the Ducks are in danger of falling into a hole they won't be able to dig themselves out of, even when the cavalry arrives. Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler — the team's top two centers — are expected to return later this month, but by then, it might not matter.
Not unless the Ducks can begin to string some wins together.
Wednesday's performance against the Ottawa Senators was a nice start. The Ducks returned home with a 3-0 victory and improved their record to 12-11-6 (30 points in 29 games).
There's a glut of teams deadlocked in the standings, but the Ducks certainly have the playoff pedigree to blow past the competition.
Besides Getzlaf and Kesler, the team is still missing two-way winger Jakob Silfverberg, who has been sidelined for the past four games because of an upper-body injury.
Hampus Lindholm is also on the mend with an upper-body ailment. He was placed on injured reserve and will miss a third consecutive game Friday against the Minnesota Wild.
Some new — and old — players who recently joined the team are paying big dividends in the meantime.
Adam Henrique, who was acquired from the New Jersey Devils last week, has slotted in as the center on the top line and has five points in four games. He scored two goals Wednesday (the second an empty-netter) in his Honda Center debut.
The other, Ondrej Kase, found the back of the net Wednesday with a nifty move in close, and now owns two points in his last two outings. He returned last week for the first time since Nov. 7 after suffering a head injury.
With players like Henrique and Kase producing, once the team is at full strength — if it ever happens — the Ducks should be able to confidently roll four lines.
"[Henrique adds] another dimension for us," said goalie Ryan Miller, who posted his 40th career shutout Wednesday. "We got [Rickard Rakell] back for a couple games. He's starting to look comfortable again.
"We got a few more guys to go, but the guys who are playing are pulling their weight and doing their job. It's good for our depth as we grind through the year."
The Ducks have produced only one winning streak longer than two games this season, but there's hope the victories will start coming in packs.
Kase admitted the team hasn't had much sleep over the course of the schedule. Friday's game with be the Ducks' 12th over the past 20 days.
"We understand it's been a taxing road trip and to have a six-game road trip start off in L.A. and finish in Vegas and have to come back here and play back to back, I don't know if it's ever happened in the league before," coach Randy Carlyle said. "But at least we found a way to respond properly and we got three out of four points on the back end of it."
The Ducks will need to pile up plenty more points if they want to stay alive in the crowded Western Conference race. Help is on the way soon.
DUCKS UP NEXT
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 830
Update: Former Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau returns to Anaheim in his second season behind the bench for the Wild. This is their first meeting this season; the Wild got the better of the Ducks last season with two wins in three games. … The Wild are one of those teams fighting with the Ducks in the standings. They sit one point behind Anaheim with two games in hand. … Ducks prospects Sam Steel, Josh Mahura and Maxime Comtois were named to the initial roster for Canada's World Junior Championship team.