Finding a way to win, and to hold onto a lead, is something the Ducks couldn’t do on their grandest stage last season, starting with their Game 1 playoff loss to the Kings.
Anaheim is now 15-0-5 in one-goal games this season, with 12 consecutive wins within the category and five straight victories overall.
“Obviously, there’s areas of our games we need to improve.... I didn’t think we played our best,” Ducks center Ryan Kesler said after scoring the second-period goal that stood up in Anaheim’s 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers Wednesday night.
“We played well enough to win tonight … beared down and finished the game right.”
Duo continues to dazzle
Kesler and forward Matt Beleskey are putting the team on their shoulders.
The Ducks won 43 of 64 faceoffs, with Kesler winning 16 of 21, scoring the goal and helping his team kill two penalties while his defense helped limit Edmonton to 22 shots.
Beleskey, now tied with injured Corey Perry with a team-high 14 goals, gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead in the first period off a backward pass by teammate Kyle Palmieri.
“Get it between the slots, I’ve got to shoot it and score,” Beleskey said. “The way we closed it out in the third was well done.”
Goalie Frederik Andersen sends a message
It was Andersen’s stout play as a rookie last season, finishing 20-5, that encouraged the Ducks to trade goalie Viktor Fasth to Edmonton.
So with Fasth in the Oilers’ net in Andersen’s 16th consecutive game due to injuries, he gave no room for what-ifs.
Andersen finished only a third-period lost puck by defenseman Josh Manson away from his first shutout in the stretch.
“Huge, he makes the big save at the right time,” Kesler said. “He’s been our best player on most nights. To be a good team in this league, you need goaltending.”
Rickard Rakell returns with eye on staying
The Ducks center has returned from his minor-league demotion intent not to go back down.
Rakell played an energetic 17 minutes and 15 seconds Wednesday, taking four shots and delivering three hits with an assist on the Beleskey goal in which he calmly handled a puck that glanced off his skate.
“We’re all dying [for him] to score his first goal soon,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He’s playing much better, playing with confidence.”
Time for improvement
They’ll need to be better than this as a five-game trip to Canada (Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa) begins Friday.
Boudreau’s spin began with a focus on Edmonton, which lags behind everyone in the NHL with 19 points and has scored more than two goals only once in the last 10 games.
“Every team can play. We’re going to have our hands full Friday, [it’s] tough to beat a team two games in a row,” Boudreau said.