To get healthy.
To tighten up the defensive holes.
To sharpen the offensive precision.
The Ducks have 20 days off this month and have spent at least two practice days before each of their past three games to hammer the fundamentals, improving from a loss to the New York Rangers to a shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets to Wednesday’s 4-0 shutout of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Below average for most of the season in special teams, the Ducks are now on a 9-for-9 penalty kill roll, and have four goals in their past 10 power plays.
Takeaway No. 1: Corey Perry returning to early season form is a game-changer.
He produced his eighth career hat trick Wednesday, and the Ducks were relentless at times around Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier, who saw an entirely different quality of shots this time after having a wealth of time to inspect pucks sent at him in his 40-save triumph over the Ducks on Dec. 16 in Toronto.
“We worked hard, didn’t turn the puck over in the neutral zone, got it deep. That’s the way we have to play to be successful,” Perry said. “We got to our game and took over the hockey game.”
Takeaway No. 2: Found: killer instinct.
“We just kept playing the way we had been. That kept pressure on them and took care of it,” Andersen said after notching his first shutout since Oct. 19 against the St. Louis Blues.
Takeaway No. 3: Sitting the team’s goals leader doesn’t always blow up in your face.
Boudreau didn’t like the recent play of Matt Beleskey, so he not only demoted him in practice from the second to the fourth line but also made him a healthy scratch against Toronto.
“I know when I played, watching a game helped me get out of [a rut],” Boudreau said. “He’s a guy we’re really going to need. We want him playing the way he did the first 25 games.”
Takeaway No. 4: Missed that one. And that one.
When Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri roofed a first-period goal, it wasn’t seen by officials until a replay of the goal by Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm that followed seconds later was reviewed by officials on video.
“I was 99% sure it went in, but they didn’t blow the whistle and the horn didn’t go off,” Palmieri said.
In clarifying that the goal would be credited to Palmieri, not Lindholm, referee Brad Watson referred to the Orange County team as “Atlanta.”
‘I’m just glad they counted one of them,” Palmieri said.
Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire