For much of the season, the Anaheim Ducks held the greatest home-ice advantage in the NHL. Lately, that hasn’t been the case.
The Ducks look to avoid a fourth straight loss on their own ice Tuesday night when they host the Washington Capitals.
Since Feb. 1, the Ducks (45-16-7) have gone 2-4-2 in Anaheim, including losses in their last three home games. The biggest issue during that stretch has been an inability to capitalize with the man advantage, as they’ve scored on just 1 of 29 power-play opportunities.
In their 22-2-2 start at home, the Ducks converted 24.3 percent of their power plays.
Anaheim’s power play has been lousy overall for the past six weeks, as it’s 2 for 42 since Jan. 30 after going 0 for 9 on a recent three-game trip. But after an ugly 7-2 loss to Calgary on Wednesday, the Ducks bounced back with wins in Colorado and Los Angeles on consecutive nights.
Anaheim’s depth was evident in the victories, as seven of its eight goals came from somewhere other than the top line.
"Those guys have been working so hard. They do so many good things for us," captain Ryan Getzlaf said after Tim Jackman and Patrick Maroon scored in Saturday’s 2-1 win against the rival Kings. "Our depth has been there all season. It’s nice to see those guys get rewarded."
Washington (32-27-10) has also won two straight as it heads out on a critical trip to Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose. The Capitals currently sit ninth in the Eastern Conference standings.
"(We’ve) got to win them all," coach Adam Oates said of the road trip. "I know they’re better than us in the standings, but you’ve got to have the attitude you’re going to beat them."
To do that, Washington could use a bit more production from Alex Ovechkin. The league’s leading scorer with 45 goals has been quiet of late, recording just one point over the Capitals’ last six games. Ovechkin is a minus-8 over that stretch and an East-worst minus-31 this season.
He had just one shot on goal Sunday, but Troy Brouwer scored twice and Joel Ward had a goal and an assist in Washington’s 4-2 win over Toronto.
Both connected on the power play as the Caps scored their league-best ninth and 10th man-advantage goals this month. Washington is 6-2-0 in its last eight when it converts at least once on the power play.
"Obviously special teams is huge nowadays, but you’re not going to be on the power play all the time or penalty kill," Ward said. "You’ve got to establish a good five-on-five game. Get the pucks in deep."
Washington’s forward depth took a hit Monday, when it learned forward Brooks Laich would miss the rest of the regular season after having an operation on a groin muscle. The team said a full recovery usually takes four to six weeks, and Laich already was limited to just nine games last season due to a similar injury.
The Ducks held the Capitals to eight shots over the final two periods and came from two goals down to win 3-2 in the nation’s capital on Dec. 23.
Washington has won its last three visits to Anaheim – most recently 7-6 in February 2011 – with Ovechkin recording five goals and four assists in his three career visits to the Honda Center.