A day after riding bikes around scenic Stanley Park and the Vancouver waterfront, the Mighty Ducks jumped out to an early three-goal lead and then hung on in the third period to beat the Canucks 3-1 on Friday night.
"The day off yesterday helped," said Andy McDonald, who had a goal and an assist to extend his point-scoring streak to 10 games. "We had a little bit of fun and it showed tonight. We were fresh on the ice and we had a little jump to us."
Coming off a poor performance in Calgary on Wednesday, Anaheim players expected a hard skating practice Thursday. Instead, they were given a day to relax and it paid off early.
McDonald set up the first goal and scored the second in the first 11 minutes as the Mighty Ducks wrapped up a four-game road trip with just their second win in five games.
"We took a different approach, doing some off-ice stuff," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said of the off day. "The players would rather do that than come to the rink and get skated. We had a little laugh, a little team bonding and it really showed tonight. We had lots of energy early."
"It's playoff hockey for us," McDonald said. "We can't take any night off, it's such a tight race."
Captain Markus Naslund scored the lone goal for the Canucks, who failed to earn a point in consecutive home games for the first time this season. Vancouver, 19-5-3 at home, fell to sixth place in the West, four points behind Northwest Division-leading Calgary.
After losing to lowly St. Louis on Wednesday, Naslund was at a loss to explain another slow start.
"I don't have the answers," he said. "It has to do with individual focus that we're not ready. It used to be our trademark that we always came out flying and caught a lot of teams by surprise and we haven't had it this year."
Instead it was the rested Mighty Ducks who came out flying, outshooting Vancouver 10-1 midway through the first period and 23-14 through two.
Dipenta opened the scoring with a point shot through a screen 5:41 into the game after McDonald won an offensive zone faceoff. McDonald made it 2-0 at 11:00 when he took a pass from Teemu Selanne through traffic and beat goalie Alex Auld one-on-one in tight. It was McDonald's fifth goal -- to go with 12 assists -- during his scoring streak, and extended his career-best point total to 52.
Lupul made it 3-0 with a power-play shot from the top of the circle that trickled through Auld's legs, ending his night with 2:44 left in the first.
"We had a flat start and you can't get back against a defensively strong team like Anaheim when we're down 3-0," Naslund said.
Seldom-used backup Maxime Ouellet took over in goal, and Naslund responded at the other end just before the period ended, taking a drop pass from Brendan Morrison and using him as a screen to beat Ilya Bryzgalov with a wrist shot.
Ouellet, winless in three starts with Vancouver since being acquired in a Dec. 2 trade, kept it a two-goal game with a breakaway stop on Selanne late in the second. He finished with 17 saves, but the Canucks couldn't close the gap against Bryzgalov, who has won four of his last five starts.
Even when they did, it didn't count as Naslund's apparent goal on a power-play scramble early in the third was waved off because the whistle had blown.
"I expected it in the second period," Bryzgalov said of a late Canucks surge aided by a pair of third-period power plays. "I thought Vancouver would play more aggressive in the second period. Third period it happened like I expected."
Auld, who has started nine straight games and 19 of the last 20, finished with 10 saves. ... It was the 10th straight game the Canucks have given up a power-play goal. ... Right winger Anson Carter
(bruised foot), left winger Matt Cooke (sprained ankle) and defenseman Steve McCarthy
(charley horse) all returned from injury for the Canucks. Carter and McCarthy only missed one game, but Cooke had been out 11 games after getting hurt in practice. ... Vancouver hosts the Wild on Sunday in its final game before the Olympic break, while
the Mighty Ducks return home to play Chicago.