CALGARY - Led by Ryan Kesler's three-point night, the Ducks concluded their 2016-17 road schedule with a gutsy 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday night. Kesler was a dominant force all night and played a role in the eventual game-winning goal, sending a wrist shot on net from the far side that Logan Shaw buried with 3:06 remaining in regulation to put the Ducks up for good.
With the win, Anaheim (43-23-13, 99 points) passed the Edmonton Oilers (97 points) for first place in the Pacific Division less than 24 hours after giving up the division lead at Rogers Place.
"These are tough games," said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle. "The momentum swings can change dramatically. We gave up power-play goals tonight that has usually been a strong suit for our group. The game got away from us in the second period with our lack of discipline. It was good to see us buckle down. We stayed with it and played more of a road game that is going to be required. We rolled four lines and got contributions from a bunch of different people. It's nice to see the fourth line get rewarded tonight."
Patrick Eaves, Jakob Silfverberg and Korbinian Holzer also scored for the Ducks, who improved to 10-1-3 in their last 14 games and 11-2-3 dating to the end of their bye week on March 3. The Ducks also increased their season-high point streak to 11 games (8-0-3, 19 points). Jonathan Bernier made 18 saves to improve his record to 11-1-2 since March 3.
"It's huge," said defenseman Cam Fowler. "This was a really big win for us. The start was important and we came out firing on all cylinders. We got into some penalty trouble in the second [period] to let them back in. It was great to see guys like Holzy and Shawzy step up with big goals. It felt like an overall team effort."
Kris Versteeg scored twice and Michael Frolik found the back of the net for Calgary. Brian Elliott turned aside 30 shots in the loss, keeping the Flames at 92 points.
Anaheim's hottest player came through on the power play to open the scoring at the 11:32 mark of the first period. Setting up shop in his favorite spot just above the crease, Eaves hung around the net as Fowler sent a wrist shot on goal. Amidst the commotion in front of the net, Eaves picked the puck out of the pile and swept it by Elliott for his 30th goal of the season and 18th on the power play. The goal also gave Eaves seven in his last eight contests, along with 11 points (9g/2a) in 17 games with Anaheim.
Video: ANA@CGY: Eaves deposits loose puck for PPG in the 1st
The Ducks weren't finished. With 57 seconds remaining in the period, Silfverberg sniped his 23rd goal of the season off a one-timer from Kesler, who used an impressive rush up the ice to make the play happen. After defenseman Kevin Bieksa caught Kesler with a crisp breakout pass exiting the zone, Kesler used his speed to blow past a stationary Troy Brouwer. From there, he entered the zone and sent a short pass to Silfverberg, who caught Elliott off guard with a shot that sailed over his shoulder. With the helper on Silfverberg's goal (his second assist/point of the game), Kesler recorded his most assists in a season (35) since a career-high 50-assist, 75-point campaign in 2009-10. In addition, his 56 points this season are his most since 2010-11 (73).
Video: ANA@CGY: Silfverberg beats Elliot with quick release
The Flames cut the deficit in half at the 3:48 mark of the second period when Versteeg sent a wrist shot over Bernier's shoulder from the top of the right circle for his 14th goal of the season. This one came on the power play with Antoine Vermette in the penalty box for cross checking.
Versteeg tacked on his second goal, this one, too, on the power play when he was able to use his reach to beat Bernier far-side past his right leg pad at the 10:01 mark of the second period on a 5-on-3 man advantage.
After jawing with one another on the faceoff, Nate Thompson and Micheal Ferland dropped the gloves in a spirited bout that had both players landing punches. These two have a history of sorts, as it was Thompson, with an injured left shoulder, who delivered a crushing check on Ferland along the glass in Game 1 of the 2015 Western Conference Second Round at Honda Center.
Anaheim regained the lead at the 17:53 mark of the second period when Holzer snuck backdoor to bury his second goal of the season off a beautiful feed from Ryan Getzlaf. The play started when Getzlaf created time and space at the far boards. Reading the play, Holzer made a heady pinch to sneak behind the Flames. From there, Getzlaf rifled a pass through the crease onto the tape of Holzer's blade for the go-ahead goal, silencing the sold out crowd.
Video: ANA@CGY: Holzer buries Getzlaf's sweet cross-ice pass
Getzlaf continued his impressive work against the Flames, notching his 38th career assist and 53rd point in 47 career games.
Calgary erased the deficit when Frolik deflected Mark Giordano's point shot at the 14:18 mark of the third period. The play started when Calgary forced a turnover from Nick Ritchie just inside the blueline, allowing them to maintain possession in the zone. Giordano's shot appeared to be going wide until Frolik changed its angle with his stick blade.
The Ducks took back the lead once more, this time with three minutes remaining in regulation when Shaw buried Kesler's wrist shot at the top of the crease. The play started in Anaheim's own end when it pounced on a Flames turnover. From there, Kesler lugged it up the ice before throwing a shot on Elliott from a bad angle. Shaw crashed the center lane and buried it for his third goal of the season.
Video: ANA@CGY: Shaw buries rebound to give Ducks late lead
"I knew [Johnny] Gaudreau's line was out there, so I was trying to play the defensive side first," said Shaw. "I saw Kes going, so I decided to jump up with him. I knew he was going to throw the puck to the net or behind the net, so I was just going to the right place."
Anaheim locked it down for the remainder of regulation to put them back atop the Pacific Division. "It's not an ideal situation to give up the lead, but we don't stop believing in this room," said Kesler. "We keep playing the same way. We got a goal to win it."
These two clubs will conclude their home-and-home series on Tuesday night at Honda Center.
NOTE: With Hampus Lindholm out of the lineup with an upper-body injury, the Ducks recalled Shea Theodore from the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League earlier in the day. Tonight's game marked his third game in three nights. (He played Friday and Saturday in Tucson.) Theodore finished his whirwind day with two shots on goal and a +1 rating in 17:58 TOI.
"Theodore played an outstanding game," said Carlyle. "He looked much calmer with the puck this time around, and he is to be commended. He flew in this morning, played last night in Tucson, got to San Francisco and flew in here. That's a tough day, but the performance he displayed, that's great for him. Hopefully his confidence takes a huge step forward."