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Ducks admit they need to start stringing victories if they want to make an impact in West

Ducks admit they need to start stringing victories if they want to make an impact in West
Ducks right wing J.T. Brown celebrates after scoring against the New York Rangers during the first period Tuesday. (Chris Carlson / Associated Press)

With so many clubs jockeying for position in the Western Conference, points are at a premium for the Ducks and others fighting for the postseason.

The Ducks are one of seven teams within five points of one another that are vying for four of the playoff berths in the West.

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What Randy Carlyle and Co. need is some momentum, because lately the Ducks have taken turns winning and losing games. Their longest winning streak is three, and they've enjoyed such a string just twice.

With the expansion Vegas Golden Knights sitting atop the Western Conference with 68 points, securing a sixth consecutive Pacific Division title will take a herculean effort by the Ducks. But they have plenty of other ways to reach the postseason, and it starts with driving pucks to the net and making sure there's traffic in front of the opposing goaltender.

It also must start with a winning streak.

"If we want to keep rising in the standings, we're going to have to string some together. It can't be win one, lose one," said J.T. Brown, who was picked up off waivers from the NHL-best Tampa Bay Lightning this month. "It's going to start with working hard and keeping that consistent effort.

"It's definitely a playoff club. We have the pieces, we have the mentality, the work ethic all the way from your top lines down to your goalie. When everybody's working, when everybody's clicking, just in this short period of time I can see how talented this group is and I'm happy to be a part of it."

No one has enjoyed more success than Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who's averaging more than one point a game (31 in 25 games). Since his return from nearly six-week absence because of a fractured cheekbone, the All-Star center has been a force on both ends, but his playmaking skills are what really stand out. And it's hardly a surprise.

Last week, the 32-year-old reached the 600-assist mark in a career filled with nifty dishes to fortunate teammates.That knack was on display again Tuesday with two assists to go along with an empty-net goal. As long as the Ducks' best player is rolling, he needs to be accounted for at all times.

"He's an elite-level player and does it surprise you that he's able to reach those milestones? No," Carlyle said. "He's always been a pass-first guy anyway, and we always harp on him about shooting the puck more. … He's reached those lofty levels because of his ability and his passion to play the game."

DUCKS UP NEXT

VS. WINNIPEG

When: Thursday, 7 p.m.

On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 830.

Update: In their lone previous meeting of the season, the Jets traveled to Anaheim and thoroughly outplayed the Ducks en route to a 4-1 victory. ... Connor Hellebuyck has been having a great season for Winnipeg with a .924 save percentage and a whopping 26 victories. He gave up four goals Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks, but the Jets eventually won in overtime. The speedy Jets are one of the best teams in the NHL at 65 points, and are led by Blake Wheeler, who has 54 points. ... Ducks center Adam Henrique enters the game on a four-game point streak.

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