The Ducks continue their Second Round series tonight against the Edmonton Oilers with Game 2 at Honda Center (7:30 p.m. PT, TV: NBCSN, Radio: Mighty 1090). Anaheim saw its 18-game streak without a regulation loss come to an end in the series opener on Wednesday, a 5-3 victory for the Oilers. Ryan Getzlaf, Patrick Eaves and Jakob Silfverberg scored for the Ducks, who also lost for the first time in the playoffs (4-1). Mark Letestu and Adam Larsson scored two goals apiece and Leon Draisaitl tacked on the insurance marker with an empty-net goal as part of a four-point performance to give the Oilers a 1-0 series lead.
If the Ducks hope to even this series as it heads to Edmonton for Games 3 and 4, they will have to do a far better job of staying disciplined. Two of Edmonton's five goals in Game 1 came by way of the power play, and the Ducks have given up eight power-play goals over five games in these playoffs. Entering tonight's game, the Ducks rank dead last in penalty-kill percentage (61.9%).
"Too many penalties, for sure," head coach Randy Carlyle said to reporters yesterday. "All in all, you can't blame the referees because we high-sticked somebody, we stuck our stick in somebody's feet or we free-hand grabbed somebody. There is no defending of that. Dumb."
And while they managed to contain Oilers captain Connor McDavid throughout most of the game, the Ducks will have to find a way to shut down Draisaitl. The 21-year-old right wing has torched the Ducks this season, both in the regular season and in the playoffs. He finished the regular season with six goals and eight points in five head-to-head matchups and became just the second player in Oilers history to record at least four points in a playoff game before his 22nd birthday. Who did it first? Wayne Gretzky. (Achieved the feat twice in 1981 at age 20 and twice in 1982 at age 21.)
Anaheim's defense, which is still without Sami Vatanen, took another hit when Kevin Bieksa suffered a lower-body injury in Game 1 after colliding with d-partner Shea Theodore. According to Carlyle, the rugged defenseman is "doubtful" for tonight's game, but they expect a full assessment of his condition today.
Vatanen (upper body) yesterday said he's close to returning to the lineup, but we likely won't know for sure until starters and scratches are announced just prior to puck drop. Vatanen has been practicing, but hasn't played since Game 1 of the First Round against the Calgary Flames.
"You can't give a team with that kind of offensive firepower too many looks on the power play," said Cam Fowler. "Even if they don't capitalize on it, it gives them momentum. That is something we can clean up. We gave them a couple freebies, too, five on five, with a couple defensive breakdowns. All in all, it wasn't a bad effort from our group. Just a few points that were sloppy for us."