For Anaheim, who are 14-3-1 to lead the Pacific Division, the losses have been few and far between. How do you recover from a loss to your hated division rivals on Monday night? Follow it up with a resounding 5-1 victory against the Nashville Predators on Wednesday.
Nashville, a team that has tripped the Ducks up in the past, seemed like easy pickings. Pekke Rinne, a Vezina finalist for the past two seasons, was relieved from his duties in net after two periods and all five Ducks goals.
The Ducks were firing on all cylinders, especially in the first period, and scored first for the second game in a row. They also scored second, third, fourth……
Nick Bonino took advantage of Rinne being caught behind the net at 2:48 to put Anaheim on the board. Then it was the Kyle Palmieri show.
Palmieri got a natural hat trick, the first of his career. The first goal came at 3:49, the next at 16:56. The piece de resistance was on the power play at 1:06 of the second period.
"It was an awesome feeling," said Palmieri, still grinning from ear to ear. "I couldn't believe it at first. I wasn't actually sure if it went in."
Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf got assists on all three goals.
"He's a shooter," said Getzlaf. "Kyle does a great job finding the areas. He's got the speed on the outside. That's what we need."
After a performance like that, it is reasonable to assume Palmieri will remain on the top line for at least the next game before coach Bruce Boudreau shuffles the deck again.
Craig Smith scored the lone goal for Nashville at 9:27 of the middle frame. It was the only shot that Viktor Fasth allowed in. He stopped 20 shots for his ninth win in ten starts.
Saku Koivu's power play goal at 19:20 of the second period just added the exclamation point.
Chris Mason, who took over for Rinne at the start of the third period, did not allow any more damage by the Ducks.
The Ducks hopefully took advantage of the rest they had last week because they meet up with Minnesota on Friday night and then face the Phoenix Coyotes for the next three games, the first one as the second of back to back games on Saturday night.
If the Ducks can be as successful in March as they were in February (11-2-0), they should not have any problem seeing the post season this year. That would be a nice change from last year, for sure.