In an agonizing overtime loss to the last-place Edmonton Oilers, Ducks star forward Corey Perry took seven shots, was around the net routinely and couldn't score a goal.
"We've got to put those in … don't look for the easy outs," said Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau. "When he bears down on those, he usually scores."
Less than 24 hours later, with first place in the Pacific Division at hand against a Vancouver Canucks team clinging to playoff life, Perry bore down.
He powered to the net again Saturday, took a Saku Koivu pass through traffic and banged at the puck until a clinching third-period goal seized the night.
With his team in the division lead now, a playoff spot clinched and just eight regular-season games remaining, Perry's ability to take his game to another level mirrors the Ducks' interest in doing the same.
The question, as they strive to hold off San Jose for the division lead and catch Western Conference leader St. Louis, is can they?
Ducks center Mathieu Perreault, seared by the dark memories of three consecutive first-round playoff exits as a Washington Capital, has done his part to step up, with a point in eight consecutive games.
But Perreault also sees a divide in how the Ducks have treated weaker teams during their current 5-4-3 stretch. Yes, they avenged the 7-2 March 12 loss at Calgary last week, but then lost to Edmonton.
Perreault said there are times games against teams out of playoff contention "feel like there's no life to it. … They cheat up and down the ice and those two-on-ones and three-on-twos, that's not really the playoff hockey we're going to see."
Asked whether his team needs to be prodded by perceived stiff competition to sharpen its focus and game, Boudreau said, "What's a prod? I hope we're ready and rarin' to go."
Five more non-playoff-position opponents, including Winnipeg on Monday night at Honda Center, are at hand consecutively for the Ducks (48-18-8) before they close with San Jose, the Kings and Colorado.
"It's a good sign, because those are the games we've had to get up for, and did," Perreault said.
Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf left Saturday's game late after blocking a shot with his lower leg before dishing an assist that Perreault converted for a goal. A Ducks spokesman said the move was precautionary.
Forward Jakob Silfverberg needed stitches to close a cut caused by a high stick Saturday. Defenseman Mark Fistric is expected to be medically evaluated after missing the three-game Canadian trip with what he said was a nerve issue thought to be in his left leg.
Veteran defenseman Stephane Robidas had an assist in three consecutive games before Saturday, when he played more than 19 minutes and was plus-one in goal differential with three hits and a take-away.
Acquired from Dallas before the trade deadline, days before he recovered from a broken leg suffered in November, Robidas said he's "getting to know the system better, getting the timing back, making simple plays.
"I like the way this team is built, the way we play. It's been an easy transition. I feel good physically. You can't replicate timing. The more I play, the better I feel. It's going in the right direction."
The 37-year-old said hitting is "part of the game. If it's there, I focus on stopping the play before it gets going."
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Etc.: In the final meeting between retiring Teemu Selanne and the team he broke in the NHL with, scoring 76 goals in 1992-93, the Ducks renew acquaintances with the Jets, who snapped their unbeaten-in-regulation 20-0-2 start at Honda Center on Jan. 21.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times