If not for the massive East Coast snowstorm in January, the Anaheim Ducks would already know their postseason fate and could have avoided a pair of long flights before the playoffs.
They'll gladly endure those if it means capturing a fourth consecutive Pacific Division title Sunday night, which Anaheim can claim with a victory against the Washington Capitals.
The Ducks made it all the way to the nation's capital for their Jan. 22 game against the Capitals, but the NHL postponed it because of Winter Storm Jonas. That means an extra day of the season for Anaheim (45-25-11), who trail Los Angeles by one point in the Pacific.
The Ducks are getting a second chance at another division crown because of their 5-3 victory in Colorado on Saturday and Los Angeles' 4-3 shootout defeat to Winnipeg. Anaheim will head back across the country after Sunday's game to prepare for either San Jose or Nashville in the opening round.
"Not our best game, but we got the win. That's what is most important. We have one more game before the playoffs. We have to make sure it's a good one," said forward Jakob Silfverberg, who scored a pair of goals.
Anaheim scratched 11 players in case it got a shot at first place, and it's unclear how many Washington (56-17-8) might rest with the No. 1 overall seed long wrapped up. Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby matched Martin Brodeur's NHL single-season mark with his 48th win Saturday in a 5-1 victory in St. Louis.
"After a couple of overtime losses it starts to drag on you," Holtby said. "It becomes a little bit of a distraction and you just want to get it over with. It was a great team response and a pretty special day."
Alex Ovechkin registered a hat trick to reach 50 goals for the third consecutive season and the seventh time in his career, joining Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy as the only players to pull off that feat. Ovechkin is the first to tally 50 or more in three straight campaigns twice.
With that mark wrapped up and a series against Philadelphia looming, it's unclear how much coach Barry Trotz will want to risk his players' health. Trotz said he hadn't decided if Holtby will get a shot at the record or if Philipp Grubauer will start.
Holtby earned a 2-1 shootout victory March 7 in Anaheim in his only matchup with the Ducks.
Frederik Andersen might start for Anaheim after missing the past five games because of a concussion. He has never faced Washington, and John Gibson was in net for the shootout defeat, the Ducks' fourth in a row in the series.
Anaheim also lost in a shootout in its only trip to Washington during that skid on Feb. 6, 2015.
If the Capitals can earn another win, it would give them a franchise-record 122 points - one more than their 2009-10 squad that claimed the franchise's first Presidents' Trophy.
Ovechkin has nine goals and 10 assists in 12 career games against Anaheim. The Ducks' Corey Perry, who had three assists Saturday, has five goals and eight assists in his last 11 meetings with the Capitals.