ANAHEIM, CA -Cam Fowler's fifth goal of the season in the second period proved to be the game-winner as the Anaheim Ducks defeated the Oilers 4-1 on Tuesday night, extending Edmonton's losing streak to four games.
Nick Ritchie, Ryan Kesler and Antoine Vermette also scored for the home side, while Leon Draisaitl picked up the lone goal for the Oilers, who dropped to 9-7-1 on the season with the defeat.
Once again, the Oil outshot their opponent (35-27) but found themselves on the losing end of the goal ratio.
"We had more aggressive plays around the net and some open nets that we missed," said Head Coach Todd McLellan. "A lot of shots from the blueline that were blocked or missed the net, which was frustrating from an offensive perspective. Defensively, I didn't think we gave up much, but it's still four goals against."
"It's the same story, like we keep saying, eventually we've got to bear down on our chances and start finishing them," added team captain Connor McDavid. "This is a good defensive team. They play hard in their own zone and we were still able to generate some chances, which is a positive. We'll build on that."
The Oilers got off to a strong start, claiming the game's first five shots. Their momentum continued as they killed off Zack Kassian's hooking penalty, boosting their remarkable road PK success rate to 22-for-23.
A defensive miscue led to the Ducks drawing first blood, however, as Ritchie scored his fourth season at the 7:13 mark. Ryan Getzlaf got the puck in the neutral zone and zipped a pass to Ritchie, who had snuck behind Oilers blueliners Darnell Nurse and Eric Gryba. Ritchie beat Cam Talbot blocker side to make it 1-0.
The Oilers got their first man-advantage a few minutes later and appeared to net the equalizer. Draisaitl deflected Matt Benning's point shot past John Gibson, but the officials deemed the German did so with a high stick and immediately called off the goal. They did a quick video review only to arrive at the same conclusion.
The teams traded power-play opportunities to close out the opening frame, though both were unsuccessful and the Ducks held the 1-0 lead through 20 minutes.
Anaheim added to its lead 2:23 into the middle frame with the teams playing four-on-four hockey. Jordan Eberle and Josh Manson were in the box with coincidental minors, and immediately after Connor McDavid and Patrick Maroon had a scoring chance, the Ducks flocked back down the ice with Fowler zipping a wrist shot past Talbot to make it 2-0.
Looking to fire up his team and perhaps create a momentum swing, Kassian dropped the mitts with Manson at 7:01, and though the Oilers winger landed a couple more punches, he was also dealt an additional cross-checking minor. Edmonton's outstanding road PK was finally thwarted, as Kesler swept home a loose puck in front to give his team a 3-0 advantage.
The Oilers finally solved Gibson with 1:46 remaining in the period, as Draisaitl got the puck on the half-wall and fired a pass towards the net intended for Kassian, but it deflected off Fowler and in for his fourth of the season. Draisaitl's ninth point of the campaign also snapped a four-game goal-less streak for the big centreman.
The Ducks locked it down defensively in the final frame - including killing a two-man disadvantage - and got another insurance marker from Vermette on an odd-man rush to cruise to the three-goal victory.
Gibson finished with 34 saves for his sixth win of the season, improving his all-time record vs. Edmonton to a perfect 4-0-0.
"I thought we needed to get out of the second period down one, instead of two, and it would have made a difference," McLellan said. "I thought we had a little momentum and then the opportunity for them to regroup and get back to their game. They started to win face-offs and took us out of it. It's disappointing, but we've got to regroup."
The Oilers will stay in Southern California for a few more days as they play Los Angeles on Thursday and will skate at the Kings practice facility on Friday before flying to Dallas.