Ravaged by health issues, the Anaheim Ducks haven't let that stop them from surging into the NHL lead.
A victory over the Edmonton Oilers in their last game allowed them to pad that advantage, and they'll look to keep rolling when they close out this home-and-home series at Rexall Place on Friday night.
The Ducks (19-6-5) have already lost 192 man-games to injury - and the mumps - with a quarter of their opening-night roster on the injured list. That includes top-line forward Corey Perry, out until January with a sprained knee.
It hasn't prevented Anaheim from winning five in a row to give it the best record in the league.
''We have a lot of good players on this team, and experience makes players better,'' center Ryan Kesler said. ''When guys go down, guys have opportunities, and they make the most of it. We don't let much define us in here when we deal with adversity - or the mumps.''
Anaheim's depth has been the difference - as has its ability to come out on top in close games. The Ducks' last 12 victories have come by one goal.
Matt Beleskey and Kesler scored and Frederik Andersen made 21 saves to lift the Ducks to a 2-1 victory over the Oilers (7-17-5) on Wednesday. Anaheim dominated play in the first two periods, outshooting Edmonton 27-14 and 34-22 for the game.
''I think if you want to win championships, you have to be a good defensive team and you have to win close games,'' defenseman Hampus Lindholm said. ''We can always be better, but we did enough to get a win.''
Kesler has four goals and an assist in the past three games, while Beleskey's goal gave him seven in his last 11.
Anaheim plays its next five on the road in a stretch that will make it seven away games in an eight-game span. The Ducks are 9-3-2 on the road, where they've won three of four.
They've also gone 18-3-1 in the last 22 meetings with Edmonton, which is 1-9-4 in its previous 14 overall. Not helping matters Wednesday was the fact that the Oilers were playing for the second straight night and third time in four days against a Ducks team that had been off since Sunday.
''We played a good road game,'' former Anaheim goaltender Viktor Fasth said. ''(Andersen) was good in net at the other end, but I still think we could have a little more traffic in front of him and make it harder for him. ... It's small things, and we have to look at those small details to become better. We've got to start winning.''
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored early in the third period to cut Anaheim's lead to one, but Edmonton managed two or fewer goals for the ninth time in 10 games. The club's 63 goals are the fewest in the Western Conference.
"It's frustrating for everyone," coach Dallas Eakins told the team's official website. "We've got some guys who have proven they can put the puck in the net, and for whatever reason we're just having trouble getting it in there right now. It's something you have to be extremely patient for. It eventually turns, but we need eventually to be now."
Fasth made 34 saves in a strong performance and is likely to start again Friday.
Though Anaheim has dominated this series in recent years, the Oilers won both meetings in Edmonton last season, scoring four goals each time.