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Gibson makes 21 saves, Ducks shut out Oilers

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- The Anaheim Ducks' struggles to score have forced them to make a greater commitment to defense. It's paying off.

Ryan Getzlaf scored midway through the first period and John Gibson made 21 saves to give the Ducks a 1-0 win against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on Thursday.

It was the second straight 1-0 victory for Gibson, who made 14 saves to beat the Calgary Flames on Tuesday. The back-to-back road shutouts are the first by the Ducks in franchise history.

"You think of 1-0 and you think of a team that is playing really defensively, but we had so many chances out there, but their goalie was great and that's what seems to happen every night," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Right now, we're not putting the pucks in the net, but we're defending well and we're getting great contributions from everybody. It's one of those things where we could have scored four or five every night, but we're not putting them in."

Cam Talbot made 34 saves for the Oilers (15-21-3), who have lost the first two of a season-high six-game homestand. They host the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.

The Ducks (15-15-6) have won three is a row coming out of the Christmas break. They conclude a three-game Western Canada road trip Friday at the Vancouver Canucks.

"We realize that sometimes the goals aren't going to come in bunches and we're playing well defensively right now and we don't need that many goals," Gibson said. "We kind of adapted that, and hopefully, we can keep it going. We won three in a row and this is a big trip for us, each game is really big, and hopefully, we can finish it off tomorrow."

Getzlaf scored a power-play goal at 11:58 of the first period. The Ducks' captain took a pass from Corey Perry in front of the net and lifted a backhand over Talbot for his third of the season and second in three games.

"They play started in the corner, I thought we did a good job of battling and getting the puck back," Getzlaf said. "It was a broken play, Sami [Vatanen] just kind of threw it in and [Perry] was able to get it over and I was able to get a good backhand on it."

The Oilers had two power-play opportunities in the period, but were unable to generate much offense against the top-ranked penalty-killing team in the NHL.

"It was just a boring game, we just couldn't find our rhythm," Oilers left wing Taylor Hall said. "We are a rush team and we struggled to get pucks in their end and create stuff, and so did they, really. It was a power-play goal that won it for them. It was just a tough night and a boring game. We have to get to a point where we are winning those games."

Edmonton's best chance came in the second period off a scramble in front, when the puck came to Matt Hendricks at the side of the net. Hendricks had an open net but fired wide.

Later in the period, Vatanen came close to extending the Ducks' lead, but was turned away twice by Talbot. With the teams playing 4-on-4, Vatanen took a pass from Hampus Lindholm in the slot and fired a shot through traffic that was kicked away by Talbot. The puck eventually came back to Vatanen off a rebound in front, but Talbot was able to dive across his crease to make a spectacular glove save.

"I don't think we made as many little mental mistakes as we did in the game before this [a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday], but you have to find a way to win a game like that," Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. "Cam played really well back there for us, and we ultimately have to find a way to score. They are a tough team to do that against, but you have to find a way no matter what."

Hall had a good opportunity early in the third period when he got to a rebound in front of Gibson, but he was unable to squeeze his shot through the Ducks goaltender.

Midway through the period, Gibson made a good glove save on Nugent-Hopkins and was able smoother the loose puck in front. Edmonton got a power play with 1:24 remaining when forward Shawn Horcoff was penalized for hooking, then pulled Talbot to get a 6-on-4 advantage. But the Oilers were unable to get a shot on goal for the remainder of the game.

"We talked about how tight the game was going to be, how well they checked," coach Todd McLellan said. "Our players were aware of the type of game they were going into, they held Calgary to eight shots halfway through the third period, so we were well aware of it. But I'm not sure we handled it as well as I expected them to. I thought there was a frustration that grew throughout the night."

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