Despite their worst penalty killing effort of the season, the Anaheim Ducks are heading back into the playoffs. They'll try to get themselves straightened out Saturday night at Ottawa, where the Senators are closer to elimination than they are the final postseason spot in the Eastern Conference.
Anaheim (40-23-10) got the point it needed to be one of the best eight teams in the West, rallying from 4-1 third-period deficit in an eventual 6-5 loss at Toronto on Thursday night. The Ducks yielded three power-play goals in five penalty kills after killing off all 21 such chances the previous eight games.
"It's the first time out penalty killing has failed us all year," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "The first 38 minutes we didn't compete. It's simple. They were getting the pucks deep and beating us to the punch. ... To the team's credit in the third period, or even at the end of the second, they never quit. Then in the third period I thought we played pretty well for the most part."
Jamie McGinn scored two goals - both on the power play - to give him a career-high 21. The left wing has scored seven goals in 12 games since being acquired from Buffalo and has seamlessly fit in on the power play as Anaheim leads the NHL with a 23.7 percent conversion rate.
"They've fought through some adversity this year with their start, they stuck with it and now they're fighting for first place," Senators coach Dave Cameron said of the Ducks. "They're going to play fast, and like the top teams in the West, they can play heavy."
The Ducks are three points behind Los Angeles for the Pacific Division lead and two points ahead of San Jose for second while owning a game in hand on both teams. Anaheim, though, may be thin at some positions as its five-game Canadian trip continues.
Center Ryan Kesler - who has four goals and seven assists in his last 10 games - missed Thursday's loss due to a family emergency and his status for this game is unknown. Defenseman Simon Despres likely will miss both games after being sent back to the West Coast for further evaluation after being shaken up by a hit Monday night in Montreal.
Despres, who averages nearly 20 minutes of ice time per game, missed 42 games earlier this season due to a concussion.
Kevin Bieksa, another minutes-eating blue liner at just over 21 minutes per game, is questionable after leaving Thursday's game in the first period with an upper-body injury.
While the Ducks know their playoff-bound, the Senators (34-33-8) don't appear to have another late playoff charge in them to avoid missing the postseason for the second time in three seasons. Ottawa has dropped three of four games after a 3-1 defeat to the New York Islanders on Wednesday and is nine points behind Philadelphia and Detroit for the eighth spot in the East with seven games remaining.
"That definitely didn't go the way we wanted and I thought we deserved better," center Zach Smith said. "It'll be a chance to regroup."
It was another struggle on the power play for the Senators, whose drought with the man advantage has now spanned 28 chances over a franchise-record 11 games. It's the longest single-season streak in the league since the Florida Panthers went 13 games from Dec. 29, 2013, to Jan. 26, 2014.
Anaheim is going for a season sweep after using a three-goal third period to win 4-1 at home Jan. 13.