A fourth straight Pacific Division title seemed out of the question for the Anaheim Ducks less than two months ago. Their schedule for the rest of this month could have them back in first.
The red-hot Ducks look to continue capitalizing on struggling opponents and extend their dominance of the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.
Anaheim (28-19-8) entered the Christmas break at the bottom of the Western Conference, but a 16-4-2 stretch has it second in the division and five points back of Los Angeles.
The Ducks are in position to close that gap further and potentially overtake the Kings by the time they meet in Anaheim on Feb. 28. They're in the midst of a six-game stretch against teams out of playoff position, opening it with a 6-4 win at Calgary on Monday.
“We're having fun,” said Corey Perry, who had a goal and assist. “Everybody knows their role, everybody's playing their role and everyone's doing the right things. It's working out right now.”
Mike Santorelli's recent production has been a welcome surprise. The center has nine goals and five assists on the season, getting three and one over the last three games after matching his career high with a pair of tallies Monday.
“He's opportunistic,” coach Bruce Boudreau told the team's official website. “He has a touch around the net and has good hands. When he gets chances, he's scoring goals.”
Ryan Getzlaf is on a tear with 20 points in 16 games after assisting on Perry's goal against the Flames. The captain has nine points while the Ducks are 3-1-1 on this season-high seven-game road trip that ends in Vancouver on Thursday.
Getzlaf has 35 points over his last 32 meetings with the Oilers. His 25 in 18 visits to Edmonton over that stretch include 15 during a 10-game streak. He kept that going on New Year's Eve by scoring in a 1-0 victory as Anaheim improved to 9-1-1 in its last 11 at Rexall Place.
The Ducks are 17-2-2 in its last 21 overall matchups with the Oilers (22-29-6).
Edmonton is in the West cellar and is 3-6-1 in its last 10 games after falling 2-1 in a shootout to Winnipeg on Saturday. The Oilers were outshot 33-22 through overtime
“We haven't been in the other team's offensive end enough to really get volume shooting,” coach Todd McLellan said. “There hasn't been enough rhythm in our game.”
Connor McDavid is looking to bounce back from only his second games without a point in seven since returning from a broken clavicle. He's totaled 12 points over that stretch, including a season-high five in a 5-2 win over Toronto on Thursday.
Cam Talbot will be back in net after an illness sidelined him for one game. However, the Oilers came away impressed with rookie Laurent Brossoit, who had 32 saves before giving up goals on two shootout attempts.
“I thought LB was excellent,” McLellan told the team's official website. “I think that he's got a real bright future in the game.
“We're going to play Cam a fair amount, as long as his level of play goes up. Now we've got to figure out what do with LB. Do we want him watching Cam, or stopping 35 shots a night? We'll have to make that decision.”
Talbot made 34 saves against the Ducks on New Year's Eve, while the Oilers could only muster 21 shots.