ANAHEIM - Despite an inconsistent first month of their season, the Anaheim Ducks suddenly find themselves tied atop the Pacific after taking down the division's fastest starter.
Anaheim (8-6-3) conquered front-running Edmonton 4-1 tonight at Honda Center, handing a fourth straight defeat to an Oilers team that had gotten off to a blazing start to the season with a 9-3-0 record after the first 12 contests.
Four different Ducks scored goals and 11 earned a point in one of the team's better performances of the season. It was also a satisfying bounceback after a disheartening 5-0 defeat in Nashville last Saturday that finished off a 1-1-1 road trip.
The Ducks improved to 9-0-1 in their last 10 games vs. Edmonton dating to Dec. 10, 2014, including five consecutive victories. Anaheim also pulled into a tie with the Oilers with 19 standings points, though Edmonton has one more win (9-7-1). A 5-0-1 record against Pacific Division teams has helped.
Nick Ritchie put the Ducks in front 7:13 into the game, getting behind the defense to take in a Ryan Getzlaf pass and whipping a shot past goalie Cam Talbot.
Video: EDM@ANA: Ritchie beats the defense for opening goal
The Ducks doubled the lead early in the second on the 4-on-4 rush when Cam Fowler got a beautiful wrister through for his fifth goal of the year.
Anaheim made it 3-0 about five minutes later on a fat rebound that Ryan Kesler easily swept home with the backhand. The Ducks improved to a remarkable 19-0-1 at home when Kesler scores a goal in his two-plus seasons with the franchise.
Video: EDM@ANA: Kesler sweeps home loose puck for PPG
The Ducks caught a number of breaks in their own end, but finally ran out of luck when Leon Draisaitl's pass into the crease deflected into the net off the stick of Fowler.
It was the only dark spot on the night for Ducks goalie John Gibson, who had a season-high 33 saves. Meanwhile, the defense in front of him neutralized wunderkind Edmonton captain Connor McDavid, who entered tonight with 19 points in 16 games. McDavid, who has one point in four career games against Anaheim, also saw his four-game point streak come to an end.
"You have to stay on top of him and be above him all night," Kesler said. "My line did a good job against them. They're a young team, but they have great skill over there. Same with us. Our young guys are showing they can play."
Anaheim regained a three-goal lead nine minutes into the third on a lopsided 4-on-1 rush when Joseph Cramarossa fed Antoine Vermette for the one-timer.
Video: EDM@ANA: Vermette blasts one-timer to finish the rush
"The third period was more along the lines of what we needed to do," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "We had to reset ourselves because we weren't very good in the second period. We relied on our goaltender. He stood tall and kept us in the hockey game. In the third, we got ourselves back into a tighter-checking period and didn't sit back."
The Ducks will look to keep it going Thursday night against New Jersey at Honda Center, the second stanza of a five-game homestand.
"We're happy with the win, Fowler said. "It's a good way to start the homestand. If you look back at the game, there's a lot we can clean up. But a win is a win in this league. We'll take it and move on to the next one."