By Michael Walters
The Anaheim Ducks finished their road trip in Edmonton. This was their last game to be played at Rexall Place.
The Oilers carried the play in the beginning, but John Gibson was equal to the task. Anaheim would strike first on a 2-on-1 as Corey Perry sniped one past Cam Talbot for the early 1-0 lead. Ryan Garbutt was later called for roughing, but the Ducks killed the penalty. Ducks led 1-0 after 1, shots favored Oilers 10 to 9.
The Oilers went back on the power play as Jakob Silfverberg was called for hooking. The Ducks killed the penalty and a few minutes later Brandon Pirri made it 2-0. He knocked Adam Clendening off the puck and all in one motion fired it past Talbot. Anaheim got a late power play in the period, but couldn’t convert.
Edmonton got an early power play as Perry was called for slashing. Anaheim’s penalty kill shut down the Oilers for a third time on the power play. The Ducks would then get back-to-back power plays as Connor McDavid was called for holding and then Anton Holder was called for delay of game about 45 seconds later. The Ducks couldn’t convert on either power play. Edmonton pulled within one as Nail Yakupov scored off a face-off. The Oilers then applied plenty of pressure immediately after and had the Ducks scrambling in their own zone. The Oilers did pull Talbot for the extra attacker, but Anaheim was able to hang on for the 2-1 victory.
Key Moment of the Game
Immediately after the Yakupov goal, Edmonton went to work on the forecheck pinning Anaheim’s defense. Gibson had to made a few quality saves to preserve the Ducks one goal lead.
Player of the Game
John Gibson. He stopped several good scoring chances throughout the game and only allowed one goal late in the third period. He should get the start on Wednesday if Bruce Boudreau sticks with the two game rotation.
The Ducks played a much better game defensively for the first 40 minutes. The play did get hectic in the final eight minutes after Edmonton pulled within one. Anaheim was caught scrambling for a few shifts, but was able to regain their play riding Gibson this game, who almost had a perfect performance. The penalty kill was perfect on the night going three for three. The power play had some issues gaining the zone and couldn’t convert on four attempts, including over a minute of a 5-on-3 power play.
Anaheim saw Ryan Kesler and Sami Vatanen return to action in this contest. Kesler prevented McDavid from scoring any goals as he shadowed him for most of the game. Vatanen played over 20 minutes and appeared cautious since returning from his injury. The Ducks are hoping to stay healthy as they head into the playoffs. Kevin Bieksa may return on Wednesday against Calgary. Simon Despres(upper body) and David Perron(shoulder) are still out with no set timetable yet for their return.
The Ducks have the best record in the NHL since the Christmas Break going 30-8-4.
Corey Perry scored his team leading 31st goal.
Brandon Pirri now has two goals and two assists in seven games with Anaheim.
The Ducks are only one point behind Los Angeles, who lost to San Jose last night. The Ducks have a game in hand over both division rivals.
The Ducks return home to face Calgary on Wednesday at 7PM.
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