By Matthew Garcia
Last night the Anaheim Ducks and Edmonton Oilers squared off in the fourth meeting of the season. Anaheim this season holds a record of 1-1-1 against this Oilers squad. In their first meeting, the Ducks downed Edmonton by a final of 4-1, their second meeting the Oilers took a 3-2 OT win, and in their third meeting Edmonton shut out Anaheim by a final score of 4-0. Anaheim last played back on Saturday where they took down their Northern rivals the San Jose Sharks 2-1. Anaheim is 5-1-1 in their past seven games and will look to continue their winning ways, but will be up for a big challenge as Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot has not been scored on in seven periods. Jonathan Bernier would get his fifth consecutive start after posting a 3-1-0 record over his past four, Talbot in net for Edmonton.
the action would begin very early in the game as Anaheim would be gifted an early power play opportunity as Kris Russell would be sent to the box just 23 seconds into the game on a delay of game penalty. The Ducks would be unsuccessful in converting on their first power play chance. However, Ryan Kesler would get a grade A scoring chance as he would open up goaltender Talbot, slide the puck five-hole but would hit the post and be denied a goal. The Oilers would be the ones to strike quick, as the counter-attack would prove to be deadly. Leon Draisaitl would fire a puck past Bernier after Maroon would get denied on his bid for a goal. The Ducks would not dwell on the goal and would go in hard on the forecheck, Patrick Eaves would be rewarded for his efforts as he would fire a shot on net that would find its way in between Talbot’s arm and into the back of the net. Less than a minute later Connor McDavid would use his foot speed to get around Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler and slide the puck around Bernier to give the Oilers the lead back just one minute after Eaves had tied the game. Nick Ritchie would get a great chance as Antoine Vermette would rifle a pass to him right in front of the net, but Ritchie would fire the puck wide. Less than a minute to go in the period Rickard Rakell would go streaking in after a loose puck and would find defenseman Hampus Lindholm crashing the Edmonton net, Rakell would send a pass to Lindholm who would re-direct the puck in past Talbot to even the game up just 30 seconds before the first period would end. The first period horn would sound, and thanks to a late goal Anaheim would head into the intermission in a 2-2 tie.
The scoring would begin early in the second period as Ducks defenseman Josh Manson would storm into the offensive zone, and rip a shot up over the shoulder of Talbot, off the post and in to give Anaheim their first lead of the night. The Ducks would find themselves in some penalty trouble shortly after obtaining their go-ahead tally as Vermette would get the gate for Interference for tying up Oiler forward David Desharnais after losing possession of his stick, Edmonton who has been red-hot on their power play as of late would look to even the game up at three. The Ducks would be up for the challenge as the league’s number five ranked penalty kill would stifle the Oilers power play and hold them scoreless. Neither team would be successful on their first power play chance of the evening, but Anaheim would get another chance to change that as Adam Larsson would be sent to the box on a slashing call. The Ducks would not be able to get one past Talbot despite several good chances from Ryan Kesler and would move to 0/2 on the power play. Mid-way through the period some of the rough stuff would begin as Chris Wagner would catch Maroon in the train tracks and run him into the boards. Maroon and Jared Boll would meet at the benches and receive roughing minors. Rakell would find himself on the score sheet as he would dangle around a single defenseman before roofing a shot up past the glove of Talbot giving Anaheim a 4-2 lead and ending the night of Talbot as he gave up four goals on 18 shots. Laurent Brossoit would take over the Edmonton crease. The Oilers would get into more penalty trouble as McDavid would get an Interference penalty that would negate his breakaway chance. The Ducks would not be able to convert on the brief 4-3 power play opportunity and would fail on the remaining 5-4 man advantage. The parade to the penalty box would continue as Eric Gryba would receive a minor for interference at the 15:18 mark of the period, but Anaheim’s power play would be short-lived as Jakob Silfverberg would get the gate for hooking just a minute after the Gryba interference call. Second period horn would sound and the Ducks would take a two goal lead to the locker room leading 4-2.
The Ducks enter the third period of play with a 4-2 lead over pacific division foe Edmonton with the opportunity to close to within two points of the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim would be looking to lock down the Edmonton offense, in particular, their leading scorer McDavid. More than half way done with the period the Ducks have done so well in throwing that defensive blanket up as they haven’t given up many high-quality scoring chances. The Ducks would have the opportunity to really put the game away late in the period as the Oilers would be heading back to the penalty kill as Mark Letestu would sit two minutes for his high stick on Ducks forward Corey Perry, Edmonton would manage to hold the Ducks scoreless on the power play bid and give them hope down the stretch of the final six minutes of the game. The Oilers would receive an opportunity to close the score to within one as Lindholm would give McDavid a solid cross-check on the numbers causing him to sit for two minutes, the Ducks would be successful in killing the penalty off maintaining their two goal lead. However, the Ducks would re-open the door for Edmonton as Kesler would sit for two minutes on a tripping call against Darnell Nurse, but they were not out of deep water yet as Manson would receive a penalty for closing his hand on the puck giving Edmonton a two-man advantage with just a little more than a minute remaining in the game. Maroon closed the deficit to within one as he slammed a puck home past Bernier with eight seconds left in the game, but the goal would come a little too late as the Ducks ice the puck off the face-off to secure the win and a much-needed two points.
Final Score: Edmonton-3 Anaheim-4
After getting off to a bumpy start the Anaheim Ducks persevered and came out victorious in what we call the proverbial four-point game. With the win the Ducks regain control of second place within the pacific division, but most importantly close to within two points of their northern rival the San Jose Sharks for first place. Ryan Getzlaf had a spectacular night recording three points, including the helped on what would be the eventual game-winning goal by Rickard Rakell back in the second period. Patrick Eaves would continue to grow on Anaheim fans as he would record a goal in tonight’s game and keep up the chemistry with teammates Getzlaf, and Rakell. Bernier would be a huge key in tonight’s win as he made several key saves in the third period to help preserve the Anaheim lead and win.
And now we take a look at the updated standings list and playoff race, the only Pacific division based game from last night was the Anaheim/Edmonton game as San Jose, Calgary, and Los Angeles were all idle. However, tonight the Calgary Flames (41-28-4) will be in the music city to take on Nashville (36-25-11) with the opportunity to leap-frog the Edmonton Oilers to take over third place in the Pacific division (with an Edmonton loss to the Avalanche) Edmonton (39-25-9) coming off a loss to Anaheim are on the tail end of back-to-back games and in the mile-high city to take on Colorado (20-49-3) with the chance to put themselves back in a tie with the Ducks for second in the division. Los Angeles (34-31-7) are playing host to Winnipeg (33-33-7) if the Kings (who are back eight points from the final wild card spot) hope to keep their playoff hopes alive they will need to find a way to beat the Jets who are sitting 10 points back from the final wild card spot, and will be fighting until the end of the season to try to claw their way to a birth in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Pacific division / Wild card standings:
#1 – San Jose Sharks (91 pts)
#2 – Anaheim Ducks (89 pts)
#3 – Edmonton Oilers (87 pts)
WC #1 – Calgary Flames (86 pts)
WC #2 – Nashville Predators (83 pts)
Winnipeg (33-33-7) @ Anaheim (39-23-11) Friday night at 7 PM PT
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March 23rd, 2017