With Ryan Getzlaf back in the lineup, the Ducks’ top unit continued to roll.
The Ducks captain, who missed Friday’s win with the flu, earned assists on first-period goals from linemates Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry, and the Chicago Blackhawks never recovered.
Getzlaf added a third assist on Perry’s second goal, and the Ducks topped the Blackhawks 6-3 on Sunday afternoon before 16,989 at Honda Center.
Coach Randy Carlyle was forced to utilize a dizzying number of permutations this season as injuries hit his club, but recently, there’s been some consistency in the top three lines.
The chemistry is now evident, particularly when Rakell, Getzlaf and Perry are on the ice.
“Things are starting to click,” said Getzlaf, whose 45 points rank second on the club, despite the fact he’s missed 25 games. “Obviously as a group, it’s nice to have our full lineup in, everybody going.
“This is what it’s all about now, this time of year, this is the way we want to be playing.”
Certainly, their play has elevated during the home stretch, with points in seven of their last eight games.
Coupled with the Blackhawks’ win over the Kings on Saturday, the Ducks now occupy the third seed in the Pacific Division with 16 games left in the regular season. The Ducks have 78 points, one more than the Kings, who also have 16 games left.
The way the Ducks started Sunday’s game will help them maintain their tenuous hold on a playoff spot.
They jumped out to an early lead after Rakell dished it to Getzlaf on a give-and-go play, and as he streaked toward the net, the puck found his stick for a power-play goal.
Minutes later, Perry dazzled with a spin-o-rama, his body twirling before he slung the puck under Anton Forsberg’s right armpit.
“I wanted to go to Raks backdoor but the d-man played it pretty good,” said Perry, who has 14 points in just as many games. “I didn’t have a ton of speed to get around … so I kind of made up something.”
Second-period goals from rookie defenseman Marcus Pettersson (his first career point) and Jakob Silfverberg pushed the lead to 4-0, before Forsberg was finally pulled from the net.
The Blackhawks responded with goals from Tomas Jurco and Nick Schmaltz to pull within two, but Silfverberg ended the rally with his second goal of the game, a rebound that squeaked past J-F Berube off Andrew Cogliano’s deflection.
And once again, John Gibson stood tall in net, his ninth consecutive start with no more than two goals allowed.
The 24-year-old boasts a 7-1-1 record over that span and leads the NHL in save percentage since the All-Star break.
Gibson and the rest of the Ducks succeeded in keeping the Blackhawks’ vaunted top line off the scoresheet.
“The checking line, as we call it, in [Ryan] Kesler, Silfverberg and Cogliano, they had lots of energy and they were skating and that’s one thing you gotta do when you play up against [Patrick] Kane, [Jonathan] Toews, [Brandon] Saad,” said Carlyle.
“Those are very talented hockey players who can move around the rink at a very high rate of speed and they matched their speed today.”