Back-to-back wins by the Ducks would once have been reason to yawn.
But for a team that has plunged from the top of hockey's heap to the nether regions of the Western Conference, a two-game "streak" was enough to mend the holes in its ravaged self-assurance.
Goaltender Jonas Hiller stopped 30 shots and withstood a frenzied push by the Pittsburgh Penguins early in the third period as the Ducks held on for a 3-2 triumph in a house with clearly divided loyalties. Combined with their win Wednesday over Tampa Bay, the Ducks (6-7-1) have won two straight games for the first time this season — nothing for the record books, but still satisfying.
"Hopefully we've found our stride and we can go from here," said Bobby Ryan, who scored the Ducks' first goal and assisted on the second. "I think we've recognized the situation. We had some points that got away from us in the past few. This one was important for us."
Sidney Crosby was brilliant in scoring both goals by the Penguins, his first goals in five career games against the Ducks. And Hiller acknowledged he could have used a bit less action early in the final period, when the Penguins were swarming and cut the Ducks' 3-0 lead to one.
"They were pushing and we lost the puck sometimes too much in the middle which fed their attack, but I think in the end it was a deserved win," said Hiller, who has given up only two goals in each of his last six starts and has a 1.99 goals-against average and .937 save percentage in that span.
"Definitely something to be proud of."
Hiller got help in the first period, when Kris Letang rifled a shot off the crossbar and Brooks Orpik hit the right post, but the Ducks helped themselves in the second period when they got to Marc-Andre Fleury.
A blocked shot came back to the blue line to defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who passed to his right to Ryan. Shooting across his body, Ryan took a 35-foot wrist shot that beat Fleury at 7:35.
Ryan Getzlaf padded that to 2-0 at 12:22. Linemate Corey Perry dug the puck out behind the net and passed it into the slot. Getzlaf, on the right side and a step in front of Evgeni Malkin, flicked it past Fleury.
The Ducks struck again at 14:26. Teemu Selanne, who on Friday became the 87th player to appear in 1,200 NHL games and only the 10th European-born player to reach that number, stole the puck behind the Penguins' net and got it to fellow Finn Saku Koivu. His shot was blocked but the puck came to Visnovsky, who blasted it at a reeling Fleury. The rebound caromed in front and Koivu dashed in to score his first goal in 11 games.
The Penguins' power play, scoreless in their previous six games, clicked at 17:27 when Crosby got his stick on a shot from the left circle by Kris Letang.
Crosby scored again at 3:48 of the third period, after Pascal Dupuis' shot from the right side hit Hiller high on the chest and bounced in front and Crosby sliced a backhander through Hiller's pads to cut the Ducks' lead to 3-2.
"That's the type of game that gives coaches, what hair they have, gray," Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said. "And for players it seems the more excitement they can add to the game, they seem to want to do that."
He said he hopes it will be a steppingstone to better things, and maybe it will lead to better defensive play and a sustained high-tempo, high-energy game.
But the Ducks will need a very tall ladder to assert themselves into the playoff picture.
"The great thing is we got that win, two points that were big for us," Koivu said, "and it kind of gives us a bit more time to improve our team concept and team game and with that we can be even tougher to play against."