VANCOUVER, British Columbia – What was fait accompli for the Ducks became certain Tuesday night.
It was only a matter of time before the Ducks punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup playoffs and they officially did that for the fifth consecutive season, with an easy 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena, also keeping them very much in the hunt for the Pacific Division title.
Entrance was gained the moment the Kings lost at Edmonton, which also clinched spots for the Oilers and San Jose. The Ducks (42-23-11) hadn’t won yet at the time of inclusion but they were well on their way to a season-high fifth straight victory.
Goals from Corey Perry, Patrick Eaves and Nick Ritchie in the opening period paved the way for the eventual outcome. Perry and Eaves scored within the first 97 seconds and the soaring Ducks, on a 9-1-1 run over their last 11 games, were never seriously threatened.
“We knew what was at stake,” Perry said. “We’ve been building and building for this all season. That was a goal, to make the playoffs. We did that and now it has to snowball from here.”
All that was left in question was whether Jonathan Bernier could write in another zero on his resume. A third shutout for this season fizzled when Canucks rookie Brock Boeser scored at 2:34 of the third, his second in three games since joining the team after signing his first pro contract Friday.
But Bernier continues to rack up wins and his 34-save effort came with John Gibson watching from the bench. Gibson is now ready to play after missing seven more games because of lingering lower-body issues but Bernier is 9-0-1 in his last 10 starts.
The Ducks will want to get Gibson in the net to get him ready for the postseason and there are games on back-to-back nights in Edmonton and Calgary to end their final trip. But when the subject was broached Tuesday morning, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle didn’t sound ready to turn over the net.
“He’s going to have to earn…