ANAHEIM, Calif.--Rickard Rakell glided over near the top of the left face-off circle, and Ryan Getzlaf seemingly knew he would be there, the type of chemistry the pair has been cultivating over this torrid stretch.
Getzlaf had just created the zone entry, shield the puck with his body, and then fired the puck across the ice to Rakell, who sailed it over Braden Holtby's left shoulder for the Anaheim Ducks' third goal.
That was the last shot the former Vezina Trophy winner would see. He was subsequently pulled from the net, replaced by Philipp Grubauer, as the Washington Capitals backup attempted to stop the bleeding.
The Ducks are now firing on all cylinders, their struggles--their rash of injuries--simply a distant memory.
Paired against one of the NHL's most formidable offenses, the club delivered a shutout and put the rest of the NHL's playoff contenders on notice with a 4-0 victory over the Capitals on Tuesday at Honda Center.
Alexander Ovechkin and his league-leading 40 goals were a non-factor (he was limited to just two shots on goal) as John Gibson turned in yet another sensational performance, witih 36 saves on 36 shots.
"We're fighting for our lives, so there's no sitting back and there's no having a night off or anything like that," said Gibson, who's 8-1-1 since the all-star break.
He's allowed two goals or less in each game but one during this stretch, and he believes the Ducks are playing their best hockey when it matters most.
"We know if we don't win now, then our season's over," said Gibson, 24. "So there's definitely more pressure and we're holding ourselves to a higher standard."
The Ducks have now earned points in eight of their last nine contests as they strengthened their hold on a playoff spot, and with the victory, they leapfrogged the idle San Jose Sharks for second place in the Pacific Division.