Final Score: Ducks 2, Oilers 1
First Period Recap:
The puck spent almost all of the first five minutes in the Oilers' zone, although the Ducks did not force Viktor Fasth to make any difficult saves. Andrew Ference did not have a great start, as he iced it and then took a penalty right afterwards during a good shift by Patrick Maroon and Tim Jackman. The Ducks' first power play unit made a few nice passes, but never looked truly dangerous.
After the power play expired, the Oilers spent a little bit of time in the Ducks' zone, including a wide-angle one-timer by Justin Schultz, who heard the boos every time he touched the puck, that Frederik Andersen made an easy save on. After the next faceoff, Nate Thompson made a pretty nice rush up the ice, but didn't create a spectacular chance.
A minute later, Jakob Silfverberg hit up Andrew Cogliano with semi-breakaway pass, and Jeff Petry hooked Cogliano to prevent a scoring chance. The refs called it, and on the ensuing power play the first unit didn't do much, but the second one did. Great puck movement from Cam Fowler to Rickard Rakell to Kyle Pamieri to Matt Beleskey, who tied Corey Perry for the team lead in goal scoring with his 14th of the season. 1-0 Ducks.
In the thirteenth minute of the period, the third line of Cogliano, Silfverberg, and Rakell kept the cycle alive for a long time below the Oilers' goal line. Good shift, but nothing extremely dangerous in terms of shot attempts.
A couple minutes later, Palmieri turned the puck over in his own zone, resulting in Mark Arcobello getting a pretty good chance in the middle of the ice, which Andersen stopped. The next few minutes were relatively uneventful, and then things got fun.
Between 2:15 and 1:03 remaining in the period, the teams exchanged no fewer than five good scoring chances, starting out with a good rush and shot by Jordan Eberle. After that, Rene Bourque missed a gaping net twice, first off an awesome feed from Clayton Stoner, and then from a more predictably awesome feed from Ryan Getzlaf. Between Bourque's two chances, Eberle got another one, a turnaround shot in the slot after a beautiful pass from Nail Yakupov. After all of that, Silfverberg passed the puck to Rakell who one-timed it from a decent spot from high in the right circle.
The Oilers' top line of Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Taylor Hall played the last 25 or so seconds of the period in the Ducks' zone, but as you can see from the chart up there, the Ducks held a significant edge in possession after 20 minutes.
Second Period Recap:
A little over a minute into the period, Silfverberg made a great pass from down low to Stoner, who was moving down from the point, and Fasth had to make a pretty good save on the D man. Halfway into the next line change, Cogliano found Devante Smith-Pelly with a great pass, but Mark Fayne neutralized Smith-Pelly with strong positional defense.
About two and a half minutes into the period, Mark Fistric took a high sticking penalty against Steve Pinizotto. David Perron got a decent chance off the first draw of the power play, but that would be the best chance the Oilers got in those two minutes. Partway through the penalty kill, Josh Manson pounced on a puck in the neutral zone and got it to Getzlaf, who did a good job controlling the puck shorthanded for a while.
As the penalty expired, Ference missed a shot from the point and the rebound from the boards went straight to Eberle, who forced Andersen to make a good save.
In the next minute, Bourque turned it over and Matt Hendricks got a slap shot on Andersen, who challenged aggressively and made an easy save. That would start a period of about five minutes in which the Oilers spent a lot of time with the puck on their sticks in the Ducks' zone, which included great chances from Perron, blocked by Fowler, and Hendricks, saved by Andersen.
Just past the halfway mark, however, Ryan Kesler took all of the wind out of the Oilers' sails with a partial breakaway goal that came as the result of a brilliant pass from Hampus Lindholm. Kesler actually almost tripped on the puck while fighting off Hall just inside the blue line, but once he had control, all he had to do was beat Fasth. 2-0 Ducks.
A minute and a half later, Silfverberg found Rakell with a good pass, and Fasth made a save on the Swede-to-Swede vs. Swede play. On the next shift, Getzlaf gave Bourque two great opportunities with successive fantastic passes, but Fasth stood tall both times. A couple minutes after that, Palmieri had a good chance, also denied by the former Duck.
With a little under five minutes to go in the period, Hall and Eberle found themselves two-on-two with Lindholm and Rakell. Rakell caught up with Eberle and interfered with him, leading to the Oilers' second power play, which the Ducks killed off thanks to some good plays by Getzlaf and Cogliano. Yakupov had the best chance, a wrist shot after a good pass from Teddy Purcell that Andersen swallowed up.
When Rakell came out of the box, Thompson hit him with a breakaway pass. He deked backhand, but lost the puck at the last moment, and was evidently unhappy about that, because he proceeded to engineer one of the best shifts I've seen him play. After blowing the breakaway opportunity, he skated it back to the slot and missed high from a dangerous spot, then tracked down the puck, made a slick move to get around Purcell, and passed it to Jackman in the slot, who was denied by Fasth. Rakell ended the shift with yet another good opportunity, this time coming off a pass from Jackman.
With a minute to go, Kesler turned it over to Nugent-Hopkins in the neutral zone, who passed to Hall, who forced Andersen to make a save. The Ducks finished the period still with a significant advantage in possession.
Third Period Recap:
Less than a minute in, Hall put some pressure on Manson in the Ducks' zone, the former first overall pick fell down, tripping Manson and forcing a turnover. Nugent-Hopkins grabbed the lose change and fired it stick side past Andersen. 2-1 Ducks.
After that, the Oilers pressured for a few minutes and it looked like the Ducks were on their heels, but then Maroon and Thompson had a good shift down low, and after that neither team looked particularly dangerous for a while.
With eight and a half minutes to go, Hall dragged the puck into the slot, and a mad scramble ensued in which Andersen held his ground. Later on the same shift, Andersen made a great outlet pass to Cogliano at the far blue line, but the Oilers D caught up and nothing came of it.
Less than a minute later, Lindholm made a superb outlet pass to Bourque, who sent it to Smith-Pelly all alone. When Smith-Pelly tried to deke backhand on Fasth, Petry slashed him, earning two minutes in the box. He did get the shot off, however, and Fasth made one of his best stops of the night.
During the power play, the Ducks set up pretty well but only got one really good scoring chance, which happened when Getzlaf made a nice pass to Kesler, who barely missed his shot.
A minute later, Hall tripped Cogliano, handing the Ducks yet another power play. This time, they hardly generated anything. When the penalty expired, the Oilers had less than two and a half minutes remaining on the clock. Kesler, Smith-Pelly, and Maroon, who I don't believe played a shift together during the first 58 minutes, spent some quality time cycling deep in the Edmonton zone, frustrating the Oilers' comeback ambitions. With half a minute left, the Oilers had barely touched the puck, and when they finally did, Perron iced it, sending the faceoff back into their zone. Fasth finally got to the bench with about twenty seconds left, but the Oilers could not muster another dangerous chance.
The Good: The last two minutes. Playing with the puck in Edmonton's zone, winning faceoffs, and forcing an icing. That, my friends, is how you hold a lead.
The Bad: One ugly turnover from a rookie defenseman. With the impending return of Ben Lovejoy, Manson may find himself sitting out a couple of games. It will be very interesting to see what Bruce and Bob do with all these bodies once the blue line gets healthy.
The Ugly: Edmonton's front office since 2006.
Next Game: Friday December 12th @ Edmonton, 6:30 pm PST