Ducks players celebrate a goal during the third period of a game against… (Mike Fuentes / Associated…)
The last time the Ducks were in town, it appeared their kingdom was collapsing.
They had been undone twice by precision-passing Detroit, allowed far too many shots to desperate San Jose and looked fatigued and unnerved in their March 27 road-trip opener at the Sharks.
"It's difficult to sustain the pace," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau explained Tuesday. "They're human beings. They get emotionally and physically tired.
"They couldn't get up for a while. Great teams can go on a six- or seven-game slide. It's the way it is. We, as coaches, don't like it. We don't accept it. All you can do is push them to keep that downturn to a minimum."
The Ducks (24-7-5) return to home ice Wednesday night for the second of three consecutive meetings against the Dallas Stars (16-16-3).
In three road games after the 4-0 San Jose debacle, the Ducks capped a three-game sweep of Western Conference points leader Chicago, gained a point with a 2-1 overtime loss at Columbus, then blanked Dallas, 4-0, Monday thanks to goaltender Viktor Fasth's 26-save effort.
Boudreau credited an engaging practice on March 28 in Chicago, along with follow-up sessions, for shoring up the Ducks' defense. They allowed only two regulation goals in the last three games.
"When you don't practice, it slips away until it slips too far … we started playing uncharacteristically, so we got a chance in practice to redo it — neutral zone coverage, defensive zone coverage," Boudreau said. "There's things you can only learn by doing."
Boudreau said by ending a five-game power-play goal-less streak with a score and then adding two more goals in a five-minute, second-period span Monday, the team reconnected with the spirit that drove them to 13 straight home victories.
"Opportunistic, rushing the goal," Boudreau said. "Our big line [Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry] played well and [defensemen Francois] Beauchemin and [Sheldon] Souray filled their roles superbly. That's the thing, you're playing your best when your best players are at their best.
"Now, we're happy to be home."
Where: Honda Center.
On the air: TV: Ch. 56; Radio: 830.
Record vs. Stars: 2-1.
Etc.: Currently outside of a playoff position, Dallas continued its selling ways Tuesday by trading Jaromir Jagr to the Boston Bruins, weakening the offense of a team that ranks 16th in goals per game.