ANAHEIM, Calif. â€” The Anaheim Ducks have played locked-down defence since Christmas. The scoring just hasn’t been so consistent.
They got a gift in the offensive zone on Friday night, though.
Andrew Cogliano scored a goal off Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba late in the second period, Jonathan Bernier made 17 saves and the Ducks beat the Jets 3-1.
Anaheim jumped out to a 2-1 lead with 3:28 left in the second when Cogliano threw the puck out in front of the net and it careened in off Trouba. The centring pass bounced up off Trouba’s left skate to strike him in the right thigh and past a shocked Michael Hutchinson.
The Ducks, winners of three straight, were then able to clamp down on the Jets in the third.
Corey Perry and Jakob Silvferberg also scored for Anaheim, which is now tied with San Jose for the lead in the Pacific Division with eight games remaining for both teams. The Sharks lost 6-1 to Dallas, giving the Ducks renewed hope of winning the division title for the fifth season in a row.
“You want to play well going down the stretch and you want to peak at the right time in the season and I think everybody is starting to find their groove,” Perry said.
The Ducks have allowed just 81 goals in regulation and overtime since the Christmas break, the best mark in the NHL. And the defence hasn’t wavered without starter John Gibson in goal, as Bernier improved to 7-0-1 in his last eight starts and 9-3-1 overall since Gibson’s lower-body injury first became an issue.
Silfverberg scored an empty-net goal with 1:07 to play.
“As players we know we’re not a run-and-gun type of team,” Ducks defenceman Cam Fowler said. “That’s just not the identity of our group. With the way our goaltenders are playing and the way we’re kind of coming together now defensively, it’s encouraging.”
Josh Morrissey scored a power-play goal and Hutchinson made 32 saves for the Jets, who did not pick up a point in eight games this season against Anaheim, San Jose and Edmonton, the top three teams in the Pacific Division.
“We battled hard all night for the full 60 minutes, so it’s unfortunate we had a bounce like that go in,” Hutchinson said of the winning goal. “It’s something that happens in the game of hockey, but we did a good job of putting a bad bounce behind us and just kept battling and had some good scoring chances from that point on.”
After breakdowns on special teams cost the Jets in a 5-2 loss at Los Angeles, their power play made amends by scoring 6:08 into the second to tie the game at 1. Morrissey tipped Blake Wheeler’s shot for his first-ever power-play goal and sixth overall in his brief NHL career, taking a shift that normally would have gone to Dustin Byfuglien.
Byfuglien sat after colliding with Kings forward Jeff Carter on Thursday, leaving the Jets without four of their top five defencemen, as Paul Postma, Ben Chiarot and Toby Enstrom were also scratched.
The Jets also kept the Ducks at bay on their three power-play opportunities, one night after their penalty kill allowed three goals.
Anaheim’s power play is the one area that has continued to lag despite its recent strong play. The Ducks have not converted on any of their last 15 opportunities, and are in a 4 for 63 black hole with the man-advantage dating back to the start of February.
NOTES: Ducks D Kevin Bieksa was scratched after being hit in the face by a high stick that went uncalled Wednesday against Edmonton. … Jets C Mathieu Perreault had an assist for the fourth straight game and has eight points in his last five contests. … Fowler passed Andy McDonald for seventh place on the franchise’s career assists list with his 167th as a Duck.
Jets: Host the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.
Ducks: Host the New York Rangers on Sunday.
Dan Greenspan, The Associated Press