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RECAP: Ducks 2, Oilers 1 (OT)

by Ryan Frankson / Edmonton Oilers

ANAHEIM, CA – The Oilers continued to take steps in the right direction on Friday night, putting forth another strong performance but ultimately dropping a 2-1 overtime decision to the streaking Anaheim Ducks.

Rickard Rakell scored a highlight-reel goal for the OT winner 1:24 into the sudden-death frame, spoiling a fantastic 32-save night by Cam Talbot. The game was a continuation of Edmonton’s solid defensive effort in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings the previous night.

“You’ve got to take note of the way we played on this road trip,” defenceman Brandon Davidson said post-game. “Collectively, we decided to bare down and play a different way than what we have been in the past. That’s a good sign, for sure, but the standard is still two points and we’re very disappointed about (not getting) that.”

For the second-straight night, the Oilers held a strong Pacific Division opponent off the board in the opening 20, despite getting outshot 13-5. Edmonton did have a pair of power plays, but they were unable to convert. Fresh off a 34-save performance vs. LA, Talbot was superb between the pipes in the first, making all 13 saves.

“The past” was a reference to the team’s six-game homestand that saw them earn just three of a possible 12 points. After these two road games, they hope that tough stretch at Rexall Place is a distant memory.

“We got on a plane a couple days ago in Edmonton and nobody was happy with the input into the games, never mind the outcome,” said Head Coach Todd McLellan. “These last two nights, we’ve become a pretty scrappy team. I have no complaints about the work ethic or the input into the game. Obviously, we’d like better results. We’d like to find a way to give our goaltender, who played extremely well again tonight, some run support.”

The Oil were undoubtedly strong defensively in the opening frame, but they were able to add some offensive chemistry to the mix as well in the second, albeit without payoff. They got the shots closer, putting up 10 in the frame to cut the deficit to 21-15 after 40 minutes. Talbot remained perfect and his teammates blocked four straight shots on the PK to close out the period.

Unfortunately for the Oilers, they still had some of Jujhar Khaira’s penalty to kill to open third, and the Ducks finally broke the goose egg 42 seconds into the frame. Team captain Ryan Getzlaf got the puck to Talbot’s right, made a deke and snuck a crafty wrist shot just under the crossbar to make it 1-0 and extend his point streak to 10 games.

It didn’t take long for Edmonton to respond, however, as Jordan Eberle sniped a wrist shot over Frederik Andersen’s shoulder to make it 1-1 just 71 seconds later. The quick reply was Eberle’s 20th goal of the season, a feat he’s now achieved four times so far in his NHL career. It was also his 37th point of the season, while Benoit Pouliot got his 36th with the first assist. Talbot was credited with the second helper, his first NHL point.

In addition to scoring a point, Talbot slammed the door on the Ducks in the latter stages of the third period, preserving the tie and sending the game to OT. He turned aside 32 of 33 shots through 60 minutes of play before surrendering the OT winner to Rakell, who deked around Leon Draisaitl and roofed a backhand to give his team a seventh consecutive victory.

The defensive duo of Davidson and Jordan Oesterle was once again the team’s top shutdown pair, playing 26:32 and 18:54, respectively. Oesterle had three shots on goal and three blocks, while Davidson also blocked a pair and had two hits.

“The back end had to handle big, big bodies, had to handle strong cycles and quick, crafty players these last two nights,” Coach McLellan said. “They’re getting their feet wet real quick against some good teams. We’re going to keep putting them out. That’s what we have, and hopefully they keep getting better.”

“I think all the D stepped up, especially the young guys,” added Davidson. “Oesterle came in here and has done a great job so far. Those are good signs moving forward. That’s the way we are right now. We’re young, we’re learning, but we’re moving in the right direction.”

The Oilers are essentially two games into a seven-game road trip right now, with home ice being the third stop against the New York Islanders on Sunday at Rexall Place. They’re on the road again for four after the quick trip home, heading east to take on the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday, but not before Monday’s looming trade deadline at 1pm MT.
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