The Anaheim Ducks need to be treating every game as a must-win as they try to claim a place in the playoffs. They did a good job of that last night when they beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 in regulation. The score may have been close, but Anaheim seemed to dominate this game.
It looks as though the Ducks have figured out their top nine heading for the remainder of the season. The top line looks great, and Henrique has found chemistry with Ritchie and Kase to make a lethal third line. Ryan Kesler has openly said he’s not one hundred percent from his off-season surgery, but he looked much better last night as he was aggressive in front of the net and scored the game winner for the Ducks.
The Ducks played one of their more complete games as the message was clear from head coach Randy Carlyle - “It’s time for results.” They came out aggressive, generating chances early and often, and closing gaps quickly on defensive to limit the Oilers’ speed game.
With the win, the Ducks move into a tie with the Calgary Flames and the San Jose Sharks for points with 64. The Sharks hold the 3rd place spot in the Pacific because they have games in hand, but it was a needed step for the Ducks as they continue to push for a spot.
Best and Worst
Best - Top Line Resurgence. When you think Anaheim Ducks, you think about the top line threat of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Rickard Rakell entered the scene and really took off last season as the Ducks leading scorer. Put all three together and you have a line that can dominate any opponents. Injuries made it take a little bit for them to get going, but they now look to be in full flight.
Worst - Bottom pair defense. Last year, the Ducks boasted one of the deepest blue lines in the league, with more talent to come from the minors. One year into the future and the Ducks are in need of a bottom pair defensemen. With some young talent not ready to make the jump to the NHL, the Ducks are forced to rely on old-timers Kevin Bieksa and Francois Beauchemin to log decent minutes. It seems every game one of the two makes a crucial mistake to give the opposing team a scoring chance.
Three Stars of the Game
3. John Gibson - A strong return for the Ducks netminder, saving 30 of 32 shots. He’s done well at not losing his rhythm even with all the minor injuries that have taken him out of games here and there.
2. Corey Perry - Perry was a beast at getting into scoring chances and causing mayhem in front of the net. He also converted one of those chances in the second period to extend the Ducks lead.
1. Hampus Lindholm - He may have been tasked with shutting down McDavid, but that didn’t stop him from contributing offensively as well. Scoring the opening goal and getting the primary assist on the game winner, Lindholm dominated both ends of the ice.
Highlight moment: 9-year old Nick Armstrong was granted his make-a-wish of skating with his favorite team and watching them win.
The Ducks next game is a big one against the San Jose Sharks Sunday in Anaheim. Puck drops at 5pm PST.