The Ducks posted their second consecutive shutout — and season-best fourth straight victory — with a 2-0 win over the Dallas Stars on Wednesday. It was the loudest Honda Center has been all season, the kind of emotional performance that can springboard a club to even greater results. Here's what we learned:
The Ducks are lucky to have Ryan Miller. John Gibson is often injured, and so general manager Bob Murray pulled former Vezina Trophy winner Miller over to Anaheim during the offseason. It was a shrewd move, with the 37-year-old a steady presence in net whenever Gibson is injured or needs a spell.
Miller has given the club 80 consecutive minutes of shutout hockey and even fended off over two minutes of 5-on-3 play. He was simply stellar.
"He's come in and it's been a seamless transition between both of our goaltenders," coach Randy Carlyle said. "If there is ever a statement that couldn't be truer about the 1A and 1B, we've got that scenario right here."
The Ducks are a better squad with Marcus Pettersson in the lineup. It's not just the rookie's play through four games. It's the tinkering of defense pairings. The Ducks no longer have to play Francois Beauchemin and Kevin Bieksa, who are both over 36, in the same lineup.
And now, each pairing is more balanced, with the shutdown unit of Josh Manson and Hampus Lindholm broken up. Cam Fowler and Brandon Montour are together on the No. 1 pairing, with Lindholm-Beauchemin and Petersson-Manson behind them.
The defense has been more stout, especially in front of the net, and that was never more apparent than during the third period with over four minutes of penalty time to kill off, many of it down two skaters.
"It was a gutsy job by our guys blocking shots," Ryan Getzlaf said. "Our goaltender played phenomenal. Those are turning points in hockey games for sure. When you have a full two minutes to kill a 5-on-3, it's not an easy task to ask."
Getzlaf is still the best player on the ice for the Ducks after all these years. The captain is underrated nationally, with 38 points in 38 games after missing much of the season with a fractured cheekbone.
He's always on the puck, and strong when he is. His faceoff game is top notch, and he can still dazzle with highlight-reel plays like the final goal against the Stars.
Getzlaf's ability to read the defense and chip the puck over their heads, and then to have the wherewithal to poke it away from the sliding Ben Bishop before slinging it in the net was as good as it gets.