If this season were a jigsaw puzzle, Friday was an example of pieces snapping into place for the Ducks.
It wasn't all pretty. They overcame early turnovers and lost a rare game in the faceoff circle, but their 3-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets fulfilled most of their wish list and earned them a first-place tie with the San Jose Sharks in the Pacific Division.
Here's what we learned:
It was quality over quantity for Jonathan Bernier. Bernier only faced 18 shots — which matched a season-best allowed for the Ducks — and four in the third period.
But at least two were crucial. He denied Mark Scheifele on a mini-breakaway in the first period and made a toe save on Joel Armia in the second period.
"I feel good," Bernier said. "It's the momentum. The more you play, the better you feel. The confidence just builds with every game. It's a group thing. In the room, we feel good about ourselves. We feel confident. When we go into the third period and we have the lead, we all know what we need to do, and we do it out there."
Nobody wants to win the division. It hasn't gotten the Ducks anything the past four seasons, and that's the lesson they've learned. San Jose probably isn't going to worry about finishing second or third instead of first, either.
Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle downplayed the standings postgame.
"We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves," Carlyle said. "We're just in a situation right now where we're not actually in first [because of the tiebreaker] … they're in first place. We're still in second, so I'm not going to make too much of a big deal of it."
Of course, if they keep winning and San Jose keeps sinking like a stone, the Ducks will win a fifth straight division title.
What would that get them?
The division winner will likely play the St. Louis Blues or Nashville Predators, as opposed to the Calgary Flames or Edmonton Oilers.
Do the Ducks want the former scenario?
They've had bad juju with the Predators, losing two previous playoff series to them, while the Blues are one of the most physically punishing teams in the NHL. The Calgary-Edmonton option might be a better matchup.
Chris Wagner is making an impression. Literally, Wagner has delivered some crunching hits on this homestand. He leveled St. Louis defenseman Joel Edmundson and on Friday lowered the boom on Armia.
Wagner, Nate Thompson and Jared Boll have comprised the fourth line lately, and Wagner has earned his spot with an edgy game and a willingness to do fourth-line work.