The biggest news between games of this home-and-home series with Edmonton came yesterday, when it was announced that a few players changed hands between the big club and its minor league affiliate. Josh Manson and Dany Heatley were shipped over to Norfolk; the former to make room for a returning Ben Lovejoy, and the latter on a conditioning loan. Jason LaBarbera has also been reactivated, meaning Igor Bobkov is heading back to Salt Lake to rejoin the Grizzlies.
Unrelated, if you haven't seen this little heartwarming moment from last night's game, watch it now. Because it's really awesome.
Don't be complacent. The Ducks have been known to make games interesting when protecting a lead down the stretch. After a debatable no-call at the beginning of the third that played a big part in cutting the home team's lead in half, it looked like that trend would continue against even the lowly Oilers. Fortunately, after a little bit of back and forth hockey, the Ducks closed out the game by keeping our old friend Viktor Fasth pinned in his net and snuffing out any comeback aspirations that Edmonton held onto. As Coach Bruce Boudreau said in his postgame interview, "The last three minutes were probably the best we've played in controlling the lead all year."
Now that the boys know that they're capable of defending a lead effectively, can we see them do it more often, please? If they play like they did on Wednesday, they should have another opportunity to practice when the 10 and 5 minute marks of the third period roll around, but only if they avoid playing with said complacency. Yes, it's the Oilers, but the Oilers are still a group of guys who get paid tons of money because they're really good at playing hockey, just like everyone on the Ducks roster, and to quote Boudreau again, "The minute you start thinking you're playing an inferior team, you're in real trouble. They're an NHL team that can bite you." Just ask the Sharks what they think about that concept.
What Can We Learn From this Game:
Aside from whether the team can continue the aforementioned prevention of coasting to game's end when they're winning, fans in attendance tonight may witness the beginning of the reign of a new team leader in goals that was probably expected by nobody at the beginning of the year. Like last year's emergence of Nick Bonino (and to a less extreme degree, Mathieu Perreault), Matt Beleskey has come into his own during the 2014-15 campaign. His tally on Wednesday night has him three goals over his previous season high just 30 games in and in a tie with Corey Perry for most on the team. With #10 on the shelf for the next few weeks, the 26-year-old winger could start locking down an unexpected position as the Ducks' #1 goal scorer as early as tonight.
Due to a solid performance on Wednesday and the current struggles of Ben Scrivens, Viktor Fasth gets the start for the Oilers once again. After being called upon to make upwards of 40 saves in another losing effort, Fasth calls Bob Murray and asks if he can please come back to Anaheim.