The Anaheim Ducks have either sped up their rebuilding process, or they are much more advanced than many anticipated. Either way, they continue to perform beyond expectations through their first 25 games.
The Ducks will try to continue their success when they open a five-game road trip against the Washington Capitals on Monday night.
Anaheim enters the week third in the Pacific after going 2-0-1 against three divisional rivals in four nights last week.
The Ducks took a short road trip to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday and won 5-4 in a shootout. They came home and held off the Vegas Golden Knights 6-5 on Wednesday, and rallied from a two-goal deficit before losing 4-3 in shootout against the visiting Calgary Flames on Friday.
Ducks coach Dallas Eakins is happy to pocket five out of a possible six points last week, but that seemed like old news by the time he met with reporters following the loss to Calgary.
"That's the biggest thing for our group right now, just to reset mentally and take a breath and then get ready for a tough road trip," Eakins said. "We're going to start with a back-to-back (against Washington and the Buffalo Sabres), and then we're going to finish the same way."
The Ducks close the trip against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 11 and the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 12.
The Capitals are in the midst of a four-game homestand. They are 5-0-1 in their past six at home overall.
Washington beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 on Saturday night, and captain Alex Ovechkin scored the 750th goal of his NHL career.
Ovechkin reached that mark in 1,220 games, second fastest in league history behind Wayne Gretzky, who reached that mark in 1,001 games.
"Yeah, it's a pretty cool number," Ovechkin said. "Just keep going. Move on."
In one of their biggest wins of their season so far, the Ducks beat the visiting Capitals 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 16 to cap their season-long winning streak at eight games.
Trevor Zegras scored the winning goal in overtime and captain Ryan Getzlaf recorded his 1,000th NHL point in the game.
Zegras remains hot, totaling 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in the past 10 games, but Getzlaf has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury, which is likely to keep him out against Washington.
The Ducks lost another forward from their top line against the Flames on Friday when Adam Henrique left in the second period with a lower-body injury.
Getzlaf and Henrique did not practice Sunday.
The Ducks recalled Buddy Robinson as a spare forward before the game against Calgary, and the 6-foot-5, 225-pound winger could make his team debut Monday.
Eakins isn't so much concerned about who he'll plug into the lineup, he just needs them to fit into the team's style of play.
"If we want to be an elite team, we have to play a certain way," Eakins said. "If we're not going to do it to a man, then we're going to, very quickly, get into trouble. I think our group has learned enough lessons, and it's time to take another step forward."
--Field Level Media