Those stress-heightening one-goal games are so last week for the Ducks, whose run of full health and attention to defensive detail have led to consecutive one-sided victories.
Friday’s 5-1 takedown of the New Jersey Devils was illustrated by the period-by-period shots-allowed statistics.
First period: five. Second period: one. Third period: nine.
The effort made life especially easy for Ducks backup goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who was beaten twice and looked bad in a relief performance before those two starts, creating some urgency for the 34-year-old.
“I really appreciated it,” Bryzgalov said of the clampdown.
It’s an all-in commitment to defense
Forward Jakob Silfverberg scored two goals Friday, but said he and offensive-minded teammates Corey Perry (four hits) and Ryan Kesler (four blocked shots) stayed focused on keeping the puck in the New Jersey end.
“It starts from top to bottom, we talked about getting the pucks deep. [The Devils] play kind of a trap game that can be tough to play against, they’re really quick in transition,” Silfverberg said. “So we made sure to … work them down low, that’s probably our best strength. Work them down low in their zone. It kept them from a lot of scoring chances.”
The Ducks (29-10-6) were coming off a 4-0 victory Wednesday over the Toronto Maple Leafs, and closed a season-high eight-game homestand with a 6-2 showing.
“It means a lot to string wins together,” Silfverberg said. “You’ve got to play good in bunches.”
Bryzgalov turned aside pucks and negativity
If he had lost to New Jersey at home, the confidence in Bryzgalov would’ve sagged to an uncomfortable level.
He required only six saves to get through the first two periods, but made some big stops in a third-period sequence when the score was 3-1, and showed with teammates tending to defense that he can be counted on as the Ducks start on Jan. 29 a stretch of 12 games in 24 days with three sets of back-to-backs.
He uncorked a first-period shot that hurt goalie Cory Schneider, causing his exit before the second period, then contributed an assist on defenseman Hampus Lindholm’s go-ahead goal and delivered four hits, including one that triggered a team-wide energy boost in the third.
“He had energy, created opportunities,” Boudreau said. “That’s the way he has to play.”
Bring on the Kings
The Ducks won a shootout and lost in overtime in two November meetings with the defending champions, and now confront a back-to-back test Saturday night at Staples Center with L.A. in a moment of weakness.
“Huge … they’ve been sitting at home for three days, don’t think they’ve been happy with how it’s been going ... ” Boudreau said. “When they play us, we bring out the best in them.
“Good, tough test.”