Among the Ducks' aims in making one trade last week and four more in the hours before the NHL deadline was to become faster and better equipped to handle any style opponents throw at them. They needed to add speed on defense and add skill, but General Manager Bob Murray knowingly took a risk by making so many changes so late in the season.
The first returns, however, showed promise of a quick and successful adjustment. Left wing Tomas Fleischmann and defenseman Simon Despres each contributed an assist in their Ducks debuts, goaltender Frederik Andersen stopped 29 shots in his first start since Feb. 8 and Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg scored spectacular goals that typified their best attributes as the Ducks defeated the Arizona Coyotes, 4-1, their sixth win in seven games.
"There's some new faces and they've got to get used to the system and I think today was a great day for that," said Silfverberg, who gave the Ducks a 3-1 lead by clanging a shot off the crossbar, gloving down the rebound and getting it onto his stick for a quick shot past Mike Smith at 7 minutes 21 seconds of the third period.
"We played really good defensively and that's where you've got to start. We played some good offense as well. We drove the net and we had a lot of shots. It's a step in the right direction. We know this is the team now and we've got to get better every night until the playoffs start."
It's almost a footnote that winger Andrew Cogliano scored twice while setting a franchise record by playing his 277th consecutive game and that Andersen matched Hall of Fame goalie Bill Durnan of the Montreal Canadiens for the fewest decisions needed to win 50 games. Andersen, who had been sidelined because of a neck injury, is 50-13-5 in his first 68 decisions; Durnan was 50-9-9.
"That's nice," said Andersen, as cool off the ice as he is on it. "You've got to have 50 before you get 51."
Can't argue with that. Or with the Ducks' effective blend of grit, skill and goaltending Tuesday in sending Arizona to its 10th consecutive loss.
Kesler scored the Ducks' first goal while they were shorthanded, bursting through the defense with a defender draped over him at 13:34 of the first period.
"I think that was a definitive Kesler-type goal as far as when you picture him, you picture him battling and working and then just outworking the guy and getting the puck and putting it in," Coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Cogliano made it 2-0 at 5:56 of the second period by deflecting a shot by Despres, who was paired with Cam Fowler and played 20:23. Tobias Rieder took advantage of the Ducks' inability to clear their zone and cut their lead to 2-1 on a backhander at 9:30 of the second period, but Silfverberg re-established the two-goal lead with his marvelous hand-eye coordination.
"That was incredible," Kesler said. "I can't believe he made that play."
Silfverberg said luck was on his side. So were his quick hands.
"Just instinct," he said. "Just catch it and try to put it on my stick and just shoot it and yeah, it turned out pretty good."
Things turned out very good for the Ducks when Cogliano scored into an empty net while the Ducks were shorthanded and Arizona pulled Smith to get a six-on-four attack.
"We'll see this same group [Wednesday] in all likelihood against a really good team, the best team in the East right now," Boudreau said of facing Montreal at Honda Center. "So that will be a real measuring stick and a better test for us."
But the quick take was a good one, particularly the performance of the Fleischmann-Kesler-Silfverberg trio.
"Having Fleischmann on my line, I thought we clicked right away. It's always fun when you play with players of his caliber," Kesler said. "I thought we were seeing each other, finding each other on the ice and that's always a good sign when you find it that fast."