Final Score: Anaheim Ducks 4, Edmonton Oilers 2
In the early going, Edmonton tried the dump and chase method to further their possessions, with zero results, as the Ducks generally beat the home team to the puck and quickly got it back across the blue line. The game's first look was generated when Andrew Cogliano took a swing at the puck behind the net and it ended up hopping off the crossbar, off Viktor Fasth's blocker, and into the crease. The Oilers tucked the puck into their goaltender's glove before any damage could be done by a looming Rickard Rakell.
In a race to the puck with Rakell with an icing call on the line, Andrew Ference caught his opponent with a high stick, earning the Oilers captain a two minute time-out. After some good puck possession, Ryan Getzlaf got the puck to Sami Vatanen above the left faceoff circle, who whipped a shot past Fasth's glove. Ducks 1, Oilers 0
After the first goal, nothing really changed. The Oilers seldomly carried the puck past the Anaheim blue line, and the Ducks continued to control the neutral zone. Anaheim fan favorite Justin Schultz got caught mishandling the puck by Tim Jackman, which led to a breakaway for the visitors. Unfortunately, Fasth closed down his five hole to prevent a two-goal deficit. Halfway through the period, Vatanen shot the puck out of play from the defensive zone, which is frowned upon by the refs. The Vatman went off for delay of game and the Oilers power play unit took the ice for their first kick at the can. A couple missed shots later, Edmonton saw their power play come up empty handed, and the Ducks went back to their business of running the game.
The best chance of the period for the Oilers came by way of one Ben Lovejoy misplaying the puck. In an attempt to catch a puck flipped into the zone, he might have forgotten that he's coming off a finger injury, and that pucks are hard. When puck met glove, he was stunned for a moment, and Tyler Pitlick jumped on the opportunity. The Oiler couldn't keep control of the puck, though, and disaster was averted.
The period ended in the same fashion as it had been played for the majority of the 20 minutes; with Edmonton failing to regain any kind of control over the Ducks. Anaheim headed to the locker room with a 1-0 lead and a 10-3 shot advantage.
The Ducks looked to pick up where they left off in the first, which was more or less domination as they oh look a goal!
Kesler won the opening faceoff to Vatanen, who hit Kyle Palmieri streaking behind the Oiler defense, and he cleanly beat Fasth one-on-one just seven seconds into the period, the fastest goal to start a period in Ducks history. Ducks 2, Oilers 0
About 30 seconds later, Jordan Eberle had an unobstructed look at Frederik Andersen that was denied by the right pad, and the Ducks immediately turned around and carried the puck the other way, ending the rush with Getzlaf ripping a rising shot that dented twine. Just like that, Fasth's night came to an end not even one minute into the second stanza. Ducks 3, Oilers 0
For the first time all night, play proceeded relatively evenly between both teams for the next couple minutes, until Rakell got sent to the box for tripping. Like the first go-around, the pressure of the Anaheim penalty kill was too much for Edmonton, and they went another two minutes without registering a shot on goal. They would get a good one shortly after Rakell was released, though, as Ryan Kesler lost an edge, allowing the Oilers a 2-on-1 that they almost converted, but Andersen quickly tracked down the puck and froze it.
Very uneventful hockey followed for a little while, until the Ducks power play crew got their second chance in the game courtesy of Jeff Petry getting caught tripping Palmieri. The man-up unit started exactly the same way they did in their last successful power play, and a low rocket by Getzlaf caused Ben Scrivens to surrender both a rebound and a wide-open half of net. Kesler dove for the loose puck but chipped it over the gaping goalmouth. He got stifled again halfway through the advantage by Scrivens' right pad, making it two shots in one minute that Kesler likely wants back. The power play ended with Rakell getting trucked by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and that looked to be the beginning of a momentum shift towards the copper and blue.
Right as play returned to even strength, the Oilers took advantage of a Cam Fowler turnover on the Anaheim blue line. Pitlick drove in on Andersen's left side and tucked a well-placed shot past the Duck tendy's blocker for his first of the season. Ducks 3, Oilers 1
The remainder of the period gave the fans a lot of back and forth hockey, until Scrivens got leveled by Getzlaf while trying to return to his net. Hitting the goalie will get you in some trouble, so to nobody's surprise, the Anaheim captain sat for the last minute of the second. Thanks to Kesler's dominance in the faceoff circle, the Ducks killed clock until the horn sounded. With about a minute left of penalty killing to do, Anaheim left the ice after 40 up 3-1, with a 16-12 lead in shots.
With 57 seconds of power play time and a fresh sheet of ice, the Oil immediately went back to work in search of lessening their two goal deficit. Their third man advantage proved to be their best effort so far, but with only one shot on Andersen, that's not saying much. After the game returned to 5-on-5 hockey, Edmonton continued to apply pressure on the Ducks defense, as the visitors looked to return to their habit of protecting a third period lead from their heels. That is, until a wraparound chance by Rene Bourque ended up in front of the crease. Getzlaf got a stick on it and thought he scored, but the puck got behind Scrivens' body and went off his skate before bouncing just outside of the post. A little bit of a break for The Professor and the game remained at 3-1.
The Ducks spent a majority of time holding off the Edmonton rally, and with the momentum the Oil was generating, it wasn't a welcome sight to see Getzlaf skating towards the box again for catching Ference with a high stick. As effective as the penalty killing unit has been all night, what came next was almost expected with the way the Ducks were looking throughout the period. As the Oilers' fourth power play was dying down, Petry ripped a shot from the point that deflected off Devante Smith-Pelly's stick and above Andersen's glove. All of a sudden, we have a game, folks. Ducks 3, Oilers 2
After Edmonton cut the Anaheim lead to one, they began to smell blood, and continued to attack the reeling Ducks relentlessly. The good guys were pinned in their end as regulation began to come to a close. Time was on Anaheim's side, though, as Dallas Eakins was forced to pull Scrivens with under a minute left, and Nate Thompson wasted no time cashing in on the empty net. Ducks 4, Oilers 2
The Ducks leave Alberta with their sixth win in a row, in spite of being outshot 23-20.
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The Good: The first 21 minutes were superb. The Ducks absolutely ran the Oil's show in their own building, and laid that three-goal foundation that ended up being too much for Edmonton's comeback efforts to overcome.
The Bad: As a whole, the team didn't commit very many turnovers; nine to be exact compared to Edmonton's 21, but when they did, a fair amount of them were pretty dangerous. With Lovejoy's in the first, and Kesler's and Fowler's in the second, the Oilers had three money chances to cash in on, and fortunately enough, they could only convert on one. With better players on the receiving end of those mistakes and without Freddie standing strong, this could have translated into a 4-3 loss.
The Ugly: On the flip side of "the good", the other 49 minutes were less than stellar. Third period Ducks hockey has become a rather bipolar phenomenon, in which the team has earned themselves the Comeback Kids moniker due to their extremely determined play when they're trailing, but play very conservatively and almost a little scared, even, when defending a lead. Extremely frustrating to see the latter on a pretty consistent basis, especially against a team like the Oilers, who ended up outshooting the Ducks 19-8 after the goalie change.
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3rd MVD: Ryan Kesler. Clutch performance in the faceoff circle tonight during penalty kills, winning 63% of his draws while a man down, which played a big part in keeping the Edmonton power play at bay for most of the night. He also won that faceoff at the beginning of the second that led to that quick strike by Palmieri, the importance of which is a little diluted due to the "secondary assist" tag.
2nd MVD: Frederik Andersen. Freddie made all the saves he was supposed to make tonight and put in a little extra work by bailing out his teammates on a couple of occasions tonight (see "the bad"). Goal #1 was a very well-placed shot off a turnover, and #2 was a deflection. Not a couple of goals you can put on his shoulders. Another great outing tonight for the Dane.
1st MVD: Sami Vatanen. First goal of the night, great assist on the second. Tonight, the Vatman looked like the up-and-coming defenseman that Anaheim deserves, and also one that it needs right now. So, we'll keep playing him 22 minutes a night, because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's our 1st MVD.
Next Game: Saturday, December 13th, 4:00 PM PST @ Winnipeg Jets