Even if Corey Perry could score from the penalty box, he would find it strange and lonely.

Not enough elbows, knees, stick blades and curses in there.

Much more familiar to bounce off two defensemen while plunging downward and flicking on the light.

So Perry saw no further reason to dwell in detention. Now he and his long stick are on the ice more than ever, reeling in benefits that seemed beyond his reach.

One of which might be MVP, and this time the V wouldn't stand for Vile.

Yes, Perry has reached the 100 PIM mark again, as he has in every season since '07.

But, as the Ducks go to Dallas tonight for their 20th consecutive Biggest Game Of The Season, he has only 20 penalty minutes since Jan. 6.

He has scored 11 goals since his hat trick against Colorado on Feb. 5, and now has 39, second only to Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos.

But he has played at least 24 minutes in five games since Feb. 16, because he is on the penalty-kill unit and, in a related development, has proved to Randy Carlyle that he won't turn four-on-fives into three-on-fives.

His average time-on-ice is 21:55, first among all NHL right wings. That's more than a half-minute above last year and 3:20 more than in '09.

Gone, for the most part, are the petulant cross-checks in the offensive zone that change a game's vibe and disrupt Carlyle's rotations.