EDMONTON, AB - A fiery second period and a 34-save performance from goalie Viktor Fasth spurred the Edmonton Oilers to a 4-2 win over the visiting Anaheim Ducks.
The Ducks were looking for a faster start than their last game against the Oilers and they got it just 1:20 into the opening period. Jakob Silfverberg’s shot deflected off of Oilers centre Sam Gagner and trickled in backdoor. He was assisted by Andrew Cogliano and Rickard Rakell.
Midway through the first period, the Oilers had one of their best chances of the opening frame and it came from their fourth line. Will Acton fed Matt Hendricks for a point-blank shot which he snapped on net with no hesitation. Jonas Hiller stopped it however and the Oilers continued to chase the Ducks in a one-goal game.
Looking to spark some energy, Hendricks tried to get Anaheim’s Matt Beleskey to drop the gloves but it was Steve Pinizzotto who would fight with the Ducks forward, just 1:35 into the second period. The fireworks would continue later in the period.
“I do know it certainly rattled their team,” Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “They’re a composed group, Anaheim. (Anaheim Head Coach Bruce Boudreau) has done a great job with that team. They’re so composed and then when the first one erupted, it seemed to set them off the tracks a little bit and I thought they got really distracted. I thought that worked in our favour. They were so upset they were even yelling at me which is always great when I didn’t even throw a punch.”
Less than five minutes after that scrap, the Oilers would get the equalizer. On the power play, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins passed the puck to Taylor Hall at the goal line and he snuck a steep-angle shot past Hiller. The game-tying goal was Hall’s 75th point on the season.
“They got a power play goal and it got them a little bit of an emotional lift,” Boudreau said. “I think the fights got them into an emotional lift and it also got us mad enough that I thought our third period was very good as well but we just couldn’t find a way to get the second goal.”
Hall was assisted by Nugent-Hopkins and Justin Schultz.
Less than two seconds later, tensions mounted again with Hendricks and Patrick Maroon exchanging punches off of the ensuing face off at centre ice.
With Schultz in the box for tripping, the Oilers took the 2-1 lead at 9:21 of the middle frame courtesy of a David Perron shorthanded goal. Perron scored his 27th goal of the season, which tied Hall for the team lead, from the face-off dot when his wrist shot skipped past the pads of Hiller. Gagner and Philip Larsen recorded the assists.
With under seven minutes left in the second, Pinizzotto and Hendricks kept the tempers flaring with some chit-chat before a face off and appeared to get under the skin of several Ducks players. Pinizzotto and Beleskey were each escorted off the ice with 10-minute misconduct penalties.
“Guys get up on the bench and they’re excited for each other and if you’re backing someone, you’re feeling good and we fought for each other tonight,” Schultz said of the fights an scrums throughout the game.
“We’re sticking together,” he said. “Tonight in the second period, with all those scrums and stuff, we did a good job of sticking together and fought for each other and got the win.”
Moments after the Pinizzotto and Beleskey misconducts, Oilers defenceman Mark Fraser and Maroon fought as the animosity between the two teams continued.
“It’s good for us,” Hall said. “It gets everyone going and it seems to get the crowd going a lot, especially at home. Those guys play hard and they want to defend the teammates that they’re on the ice with and it’s great for us. If we can keep playing tough and keep playing with pride, that’s going to follow along.”
Schultz stretched his goal streak to two straight games when he tapped in a loose puck from the side of the net, at 16:38 of the second for the 3-1 lead. The goal after the scramble in front was assisted by Jordan Eberle and Hall.
Corey Perry tipped in a power play goal from the slot just 25 seconds into the third period to draw the Ducks within one. Ryan Getzlaf and Hampus Lindholm had the assists.
By the final television timeout, with under 6 minutes remaining in the game, the Ducks had racked up 31 shots on Fasth but the Oilers were clinging to the 3-2 lead.
Eberle scored the insurance empty-net goal at 19:46 as the Oilers took the game 4-2.