DENVER — The worst game the Ducks played this season before Wednesday was here in their opener, a 6-1 loss capped by Colorado Avalanche rookie Coach Patrick Roy threatening to break through a glass partition to fight Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau.
That image has lasted longer than what happened afterward: the Ducks embarking on a seven-game win streak and a 15-2-1 roll.
Back in Pepsi Center on Thursday, the Ducks (43-16-7) went through perhaps their most spirited, contact-filled practice of the season, a night removed from their horrific showing in a 7-2 loss at woeful Calgary.
Western Conference leaders a week ago, the Ducks have lost four straight, are 4-6-2 in their last 12 games, and are clinging to to the Pacific Division lead.
“I was happy with the practice,” Boudreau said. “We had a couple individual meetings, and those guys went out and did a hardworking job. I hope they get rewarded. … I want them to remember it and never let it happen again.”
Olympians Ryan Getzlaf and Cam Fowler pushed and battled for a puck near the net. Defenseman Luca Sbisa knocked down Andrew Cogliano. Forward Patrick Maroon pushed star Corey Perry hard into the boards.
“We have to work harder, it starts in practice,” Ducks center Nick Bonino said. “That was the message. We received it, so we’ll come out tomorrow harder.”
Getzlaf, in a six-game goalless drought that is his longest of the season, said that like the Colorado rout to open the season, the Calgary debacle might motivate.
“It’s about our response, and our guys did a great job showing up as professionals.… Hopefully, that transfers into [Friday’s] game,” Getzlaf said.
Whatever inspired Roy to pursue Boudreau — was he trying to set a fighting tone for his youthful team in a new season? — remains unknown. Boudreau said he hasn’t communicated with Roy since.
“It’s so far gone, long ago, I have no idea,” Boudreau said inside the arena. “This is the first I’ve thought of it. My whole focus is on what our team is. Whatever Patrick did or has done, it’s got his team playing fabulous.”
Colorado (43-18-5) is coming off a victory Wednesday over defending Stanley Cup-champion Chicago. Paced by centers Ryan O’Reilly (25 goals, 28 assists), Matt Duchene (22 goals, 40 assists) and rookie Nathan Mackinnon (22 goals, 29 assists), the Avalanche aspires to win the Central Division.
Bonino ended a nine-game stretch without a goal Wednesday after Boudreau benched him during a power play. He came back to impressively block a shot, then put one in the net.
“He got the message,” Boudreau said.
Meanwhile, forward Kyle Palmieri hasn’t scored in 13 games since Jan. 17, Matt Beleskey has been kept out of the goal for 10 games and veterans Teemu Selanne (14 games) and Saku Koivu (10 games) are also looking to break through.
DUCKS AT COLORADO
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Etc.: Former Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere has 10 wins for Colorado and starter Semyon Varlamov is 32-12-5. ... The Ducks’ power-play slump is now at three for 41. Worse, they gave up two short-handed goals Wednesday.