ANAHEIM, Calif. — All season the Ducks have been the favorites, knocking down nearly every team in the league as they tore through their early and midseason schedules. They knocked one more down Wednesday night at the packed Honda Center, toppling San Jose 5-2 to clinch their second-straight Pacific Division title.
It was a record-breaking win that gave the Ducks back their Western Conference lead (52-20-8, 112 points) and set a new club record for most points in a season.
"It’s cool because it’s a really tough division," said head coach Bruce Boudreau. "When you start out, you have certain goals. One is to win the division, then the conference, then the President’s Trophy and then you win every round of the playoffs to win the (Stanley) Cup.
"We’ve got one down, but we have others we want to have. We know it’s a tough grind."
Contributions came from top to bottom as three of four lines scored goals. Two players that weren’t on the postseason roster last season – one of which may not even be this season – turned in big performances.
They even came from the standing room-only crowd that many felt was a motivating factor.
"You could tell from the moment you came out for the national anthems that our crowd was into it," Boudreau said. "I know it gave us added jump and juice."
Wednesday’s game started as any game with title implications would: Staunch defense, hard hits and a race to score first.
Jason Demers scored with just under two minutes left in the first period and Perry charged right back down the ice and beat Justin Braun across the crease for the finish to tie the game with barely two seconds left.
Patrick Maroon gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead when he took a feed from Selanne behind the net and stuffed a wraparound goal past San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi, effectively chasing him from the game. In what would prove to be a wild second period, Selanne fed Maroon again for his first career multi-goal game.
"We had him for a few games last year but not enough to really set in stone how good this kid can be when he wants to play," Boudreau said. "I think he’s really added a lot to our team."
Does anyone else find it funny that the Ducks were celebrating listening to that "Let me take a selfie" song in the dressing room?
Goaltender John Gibson looked almost too poised to have only been making his second career NHL start. While the highly-touted veteran Niemi skated to the bench early, 20-year-old Gibson stood firm on the other end stopping 38 shots.
"It was a big game and there was a lot on the line," Gibson said. "But I was just going out and playing hockey."
The Ducks have now earned points in eight of their last 10 games and are 9-4-1 in their last 14.
"It’s the right time to be picking up momentum," said Boudreau, who won his sixth division championship as a head coach. "I really thought that even when they scored a goal or something we kept our composure, even when we had a penalty we kept our composure and we then had the ability to keep coming back and pushing forward."
Congratulations to the @AnaheimDucks on clinching the NHL's Pacific Division Championship tonight!
And they will need to keep pushing forward as they still have two games left in the regular season and neither will be a gimme. Saturday, the Ducks will clash with the Kings for the final Freeway Faceoff game of the regular season at Staples Center before ending the season at home against Colorado the following day.
"We want to finish strong, that’s what really matters," Selanne said. "Everybody is excited about the playoffs right now. We want to make sure nobody gets hurt and go from there."