The door to first place was wide open, and the Ducks pushed through and slammed it shut on the Winnipeg Jets.
Now they're in the kitchen of the San Jose Sharks.
What was a seven-point gap between the Ducks and San Jose eight days ago closed Friday in a 3-1 win against Winnipeg at Honda Center.
Corey Perry and Andrew Cogliano each scored their 15th goals as the Ducks matched San Jose with 91 points, although the Sharks hold the tiebreaker with more regulation and overtime wins.
The Ducks have said that playing well is more important than a possible fifth straight Pacific Division title, and Perry reemphasized that with their current standing. "It doesn't mean anything," Perry said. "I can tell you right now. We're just trying to go out and play hockey, and chips fall where they fall and move on. [First place] hasn't worked in the past."
The Ducks held the Jets to 18 shots, four in the third period. And stops by goalie Jonathan Bernier on Mark Scheifele and Joel Armia ended up being big.
"I think they had some grade-A scoring chances for 18 shots tonight," Bernier said. "I thought our forecheck was strong tonight, and we spent a lot of time in their zone. We definitely deserved that win."
Cogliano banked a shot off Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba into the net at 16:32 of the second period for a 2-1 lead. Ryan Kesler beat a defender to the puck and passed it to Cogliano behind the goal line.
The Jets are out of playoff consideration and were playing on back-to-back nights. They were also without injured defenseman and ice-time leader Dustin Byfuglien, a late scratch after he took warmups.
The Ducks were shorthanded, too. Defenseman Kevin Bieksa missed his first game of the season following a high stick to the mouth Wednesday.
Perry and the Ducks got the game's first goal. Perry carried the puck from the Jets' goal line to high above the circles and scored on a 50-foot wrist shot through a crowded crease.
From there, the Ducks settled into one of their more complete efforts during a 7-1-1 run.
"[We're] finding different ways to win hockey games, which is encouraging," Cam Fowler said. "Tonight, I thought, was a pretty complete game, for the most part."
Fellow defenseman Clayton Stoner was assigned to San Diego in a minor league long-term conditioning loan as he tries to return from abdominal surgery.
Goalie John Gibson said he's feeling better but wants to make sure he's fully ready in his return from a lower-body injury. He didn't have thoughts on how many games he'd like to get in before the playoffs. "It would be nice to play, but we've got to make sure [I'm] healthy and everything and feeling good," he said. "If you're not feeling good, then you're going to hurt to the team and you can't be out there. But I'm feeling pretty good lately."
Gibson was reinjured March 10 when he made a surprise start against the St. Louis Blues. It's been frustrating, but Gibson won't let that get to him. "That's part of it," he said. "If you get frustrated and get mad at it, it's not going to get you anywhere. Everybody has injuries. ... I think you've just got to take it in stride."