Determined Ducks aim for different result vs. Oilers
EDMONTON, Alberta — The Anaheim Ducks ticked off a lot of boxes in the first two games of their Western Conference second-round series.
They outshot the Edmonton Oilers 76-55 and held captain Connor McDavid (NHL-best 100 points) to just one assist.
The Ducks, however, dropped both contests and are now in desperation mode as the scene shifts to Rogers Place for Game 3 on Sunday.
Despite the series deficit, Anaheim generated more chances, won more faceoffs and had more puck possession. There really isn’t much they need to change outside of three key areas:
–They need to get more traffic to the net.
“We didn’t have enough net presence on the goaltender, (Cam) Talbot got to see too many pucks,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said.
–They need to stay out of the penalty box. The Oilers have scored three power-play goals over the first two games of the series, and the Ducks’ penalty killing percentage through the postseason is a league-low 64 percent.
–Goalie John Gibson needs to match the stellar play of Oilers netminder Talbot. Talbot has been outstanding since getting the hook in a 7-0 loss to San Jose in Game 4 of the first round. Since then, he’s got four wins. And when one netminder is playing out of his head, the one at the other end can’t afford to give up bad goals. The goal that Gibson surrendered to Andrej Sekera early in Game 2 was one that an NHL goalie has to stop.
After Friday’s 2-1 loss, the Ducks were talking about taking a lot of the good things they did into Sunday’s game.
“I’d be really disappointed if we didn’t play well,” said captain Ryan Getzlaf, who has seven points in six playoff games. “We played pretty good hockey tonight. We have to make a few adjustments.”
“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing,” Anaheim right winger Jakob Silfverberg said. “We’re doing a lot of good things out there today. The last piece is missing and it’s correctable.”
As for the Oilers, they were talking like they’d lost Game 2 — they know they need to be a lot better. They know they can’t try to win the series simply by riding on their red-hot goalie.
“If we’re going to play like that, it’s going to be tough to ask for more from Talb’s side,” Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom said. “He was really good last night, so we’ve got to be on our toes to get the next win.”
“There’s going to be a lot of areas that we have to be better in,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. “Just the overall intensity has to go up; battles for pucks, 10-foot races, 10-foot competitive situations. So, the good news is we had a great goaltender’s performance, we were able to win the game — now we’ve got some things to work on.”
McLellan said that left winger Drake Caggiula, who left Game 2 with an undisclosed ailment and did not return, is “OK.”
Ducks forward Nick Ritchie missed Game 2 with an illness and is questionable to play on Sunday.
With two days off between Games 3 and 4, the Ducks will jet off to Kelowna, B.C. for a mini-retreat rather than stay in hockey-mad Edmonton, where they’d likely get no peace.
The question is, will the retreat feel more like a wake should the Ducks trail three games to none — or will Sunday give them a glimmer of hope?