Mathieu Perreault

The Ducks are on fire — how are they doing it?

In case you hadn’t noticed, the Anaheim Ducks have shaken off their season-opening 6-1 loss to Colorado in rather impressive fashion.

Five straight wins. Twenty goals scored. Just eight surrendered.

Tonight, they’ll try to make it six straight when Phoenix, another team off to a good start, visits The Pond.

Here’s what the Coyotes will be facing:

—- A team that’s getting great goaltending. Particularly from Jonas Hiller, who’s 3-0-0 with a .959 save percentage and one shutout. Even with the other half of the tandem, Viktor Fasth, allowing six goals in one game to the Avs, the Ducks’ team save percentage stands at .922, the ninth highest in the NHL.

—- A team that’s been outstanding five-on-five. It’s had to be with a power play that ranks last in the NHL (4.3%) and a penalty kill that ranks 26th (72.2%). The Ducks’ excellent even-strength play is illustrated in their individual plus-minuses — veteran d-man Francois Beauchemin leads the team at plus-8, while Cam Fowler (-3), Saku Koivu (-1), and Matt Beleskey (-1) are the only minuses.

—- A team that’s getting scoring from its best players. Like Corey Perry (3G, 3A) and Ryan Getzlaf (2G, 3A). Those two are paid the big bucks for a reason.

—- A team that’s getting scoring from its newcomers. Like Jakob Silfverberg (4G, 2A) and Mathieu Perreault (2G, 3A). The former was acquired from Ottawa in the Bobby Ryan trade; the latter came to Anaheim in a deal with Washington. Even much-maligned winger Dustin Penner, signed as a free agent, has chipped in with a pair of goals and a pair of assists.

—- A team that’s getting off to good starts. Only San Jose (12) has more first-period goals than the Ducks (10). “Our first periods have been generous to us,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “We’ve gotten out to a lead and just had to protect it. Last season, we would usually have to come from behind.”

All that said, the Ducks didn’t play their best Wednesday, ultimately getting outshot 35-22 by the Flames in a game Anaheim managed to hang on and win, 3-2.

“I didn’t think we had much flow at all,” Boudreau said. “When you’re used to seeing what we saw the previous two games, it’s tough to take.”

Obviously, “tough to take” is a relative phrase. We assume most Ducks fans will take 5-1-0 after six games.

Crosby, Karlsson and Trocheck are NHL’s three stars of the week

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby celebrates his goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, and Panthers center Vincent Trocheck have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.

From the NHL:

Crosby led the League in goals and points (5-3-8) in three games as the Penguins (26-18-7, 59 points) earned four of a possible six points to secure the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference.

Karlsson led the League in assists and ranked second in points (0-7-7) in three games as the Senators (24-23-6, 54 points) won one of three starts for the week.

Trocheck notched six points (3-3—6) in three games, helping the Panthers (31-15-6, 68 points) widen their lead atop the Atlantic Division to six points.

Related: Red-hot Crosby could make Pens a flawed (but dangerous) dark horse

Malkin to miss third straight game with lower-body injury

Evgeni Malkin
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Evgeni Malkin‘s “nagging” lower-body injury will keep him out at least one more game.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said this morning that the star center will sit out tonight at home against the Ducks. Malkin already missed two contests this weekend in Florida. His status is day-to-day.

The Penguins lost, 6-3, in Tampa on Friday, but rebounded Saturday with a 3-2 OT win over the Panthers.

Pittsburgh’s next game after tonight’s is Wednesday at home versus the Rangers.

McDonagh out with concussion after Saturday’s altercation with Simmonds

Ryan McDonagh
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The New York Rangers will be without Ryan McDonagh tonight at home to New Jersey, the club announcing this morning that the defenseman is out with a concussion.

McDonagh left Saturday’s game in Philadelphia following an altercation with the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds that ended with McDonagh taking a punch to the face from Simmonds.

Simmonds received a match penalty and was thrown out of the game, but did not receive any supplemental discipline.

Given the standings, the Rangers can ill afford to lose McDonagh for long. They play in Pittsburgh Wednesday, followed by three home games against Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

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Lucic’s plan is to ‘remain a King’ for remainder of career

Milan Lucic, Alex Burrows, Dan Hamhuis
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Tuesday night, Milan Lucic will play his first game in Boston as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

It should be an emotional return for the big 27-year-old winger. In an interview with the L.A. Times, he recalled his time with his former club fondly, saying how great it was to be a “part of one of the best-ever eras to be a Bruin.”

A pending unrestricted free agent, Lucic also commented on his contract negotiations with the Kings.

“Nothing to get excited about,” he said. “There’s been two or three little talks here and there. My plan is to remain a King and hopefully finish off my career here. Like I said, I go day by day and you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.”

Lucic has 12 goals and 18 assists in 50 games this season. Though the Kings reportedly want to keep him, the question is whether they can find the cap space to make it happen.

Los Angeles already has Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Marian Gaborik, Kyle Clifford, Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, and Jonathan Quick locked up long term. Plus, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson will require new deals after next season.

Related: Why Lucic is an interesting pending UFA