Flames 8 – Ducks 3
Ducks lost all control of their slot area today as 8 different Flames players were able to convert shots into goals. Tips in front, open men in the slot, and consistent board battles were the difference in this game. The Flames final goal was a 2 on 0 rush on a penalty kill to add salt to the wound. Ducks were able to tack in a couple goals in the final 4 minutes, but it would not be nearly enough to overcome the Flames flurry of goals in the second (5 in 6 minutes). Gaudreau’s presence was clearly a factor, drawing first blood and playing a role in the first three Calgary goals.
Kesler was the best Ducks player on the ice tonight, scoring twice and perhaps becoming responsible for the Ducks’ positives: face-off percentage and shots on goal. The Ducks will have a couple of days to regroup before facing the Hurricanes at home on Wednesday.
Both Carolina and Ottawa look to find success in the California gauntlet this week.
Coyotes 3 – Oilers 2 (Shootout)
Coyotes acted as gap control for the Pacific on Black Friday as they stopped the Oilers from getting both points. Fighting a tough series of games (5 losses of last 6), the Coyotes were able to fight back from behind for a win, led by Vrbata (assist and shootout goal) and Smith in goal.
McDavid started the scoring with a breakaway goal for the Oilers. Coyotes were denied a goal and Larsson would take the Oilers even further with a ninja-like one-timer. Domi would put the Coyotes on the board with a goal on the rush by trailing and using players in front of him as a screen. Coyotes captain Doan would tie the game with a redirect into the Oilers net. The Oilers brought the heat in OT with a powerplay, but the Coyotes held on. McDavid even “scored” on the final rush of OT, just milliseconds after the horn, which would not count. The Coyotes would go on to win in the shootout after both McDavid and Eberle did not score. Vrbata, on the other hand, would extend his career shootout goal count to 43, still the highest in NHL history.
Ducks 3 – Sharks 2
After a 3 game losing streak, Anaheim needed to take advantage of a SJ team in the 2nd of back-to-back games, and that’s just what they did.
With the Ducks struggling in the last week and with the Kings victory over Chicago, all California teams are within 1 point of each other (SJ/LA at 25 and ANA at 24). This creates a small gap between the upper 4 teams in the Pacific and the bottom 3.
Sharks drew first blood with a shot from the top of the circle by Couture but the Ducks responded with a goal from a strong rushing break to the net by Garbutt. SJ challenged this goal unsuccessfully, costing the Sharks their timeout. Rakell would slice the puck out of the air and redirect it into the Sharks net for the first Ducks lead of the night. DeMelo answered with a slapshot in the second, but Getzlaf would pull the Ducks ahead again with a PPG from the slot. Despite brief end game surges from the Sharks, the Ducks would hang on to a well-deserved, much needed victory.