VANCOUVER, Canada — First place in the Pacific Division became the Ducks' again Saturday night, when they returned to the brand of play that put them there in the first place.
"It's a goal" to win the division, said center Saku Koivu, one of five Ducks players who scored in a 5-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.
"We're more trying to pay attention to our game, the way we want to play, the way it has to be," Koivu said.
Ducks rookie goalie Frederik Andersen stopped 31 of 32 shots as Anaheim established a new team record for most road wins (23) in a season and tied the 2006-07 Stanley Cup champions' team mark for most victories (48).
Most important, by virtue of the San Jose Sharks' loss at Colorado, the Ducks (48-18-8) now hold a one-point lead for the division lead and they have two more games on the schedule than the Sharks, who overtook the Ducks on March 20.
"We not only want first place, but to be playing as well as we can going into the playoffs," Andersen said. "Now, we'll focus on those last eight games, and focus on how we played earlier in the season now that we're in crunch time."
The Ducks also pulled within three points of the Western Conference lead behind the St. Louis Blues, who have eight regular-season games remaining too but would lose the tiebreaker to Anaheim.
After giving up nine power-play goals over a seven-game stretch from March 7 to 20, the Ducks killed all three penalties they committed in the second period and they even were able to extend their lead to 3-1.
Andersen stopped all 15 shots he faced in the period.
Koivu made them pay with 8:58 left in the second, halting his 17-game goal-less drought dating to Jan. 30 by backhanding a pass from behind the net by line-mate Daniel Winnik, beating Vancouver rookie goalie Eddie Lack.
For good measure, the Ducks, who began the night ranked 20th in the NHL in penalty kill effectiveness (81.3%), burned off the two minutes that came when forward Jakob Silfverberg tripped Lack.
Anaheim now has a four-game streak without allowing a power-play goal.
"We just kept trying to do what we want to do, keep them on the boards, focus on the ice," Andersen said.
Corey Perry, with his team-best 38th goal, and center Mathieu Perreault, with a power-play goal that extended his points streak to eight games, iced it by scoring in the third period.
Knowing San Jose lost in the afternoon, the Ducks surged to a 2-0 lead during a 71-second span early in the first period.
Defenseman Luca Sbisa produced his first goal of the season, blasting a shot just inside the blue line that passed Lack with big-bodied Ducks forward Patrick Maroon and forward Kyle Palmieri screening.
Then, Ducks forward Matt Beleskey took a no-look, backhanded pass from rookie center Rickard Rakell and beat Lack.
Vancouver (34-31-11) is five points behind the eighth-place Phoenix Coyotes with six games remaining.
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