John Gibson picked up right where he left off.
The No. 1 netminder returned after a four-game absence to nurse a lower-body injury and spearheaded the Ducks to a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Friday before a sellout crowd of 17,174 at Honda Center.
Gibson made a slew of sparkling saves against the Oilers, captained by reigning MVP Connor McDavid, who entered the game with seven goals in his last three contests.
On one such sequence, Jesse Puljujarvi streaked down the right side and attempted to beat Gibson short side, but the goalie was there to hug the pipe.
They recollected behind the net, and McDavid let loose with a one-timer, but Gibson stonewalled them again.
It was an impressive performance from the Ducks, who resembled a Cup contender — the same team that didn’t show up during the five-game road swing.The puck movement was crisp, the passes timely and they were able to (mostly) contain McDavid, who dazzled and dangled but saw his scoring streak die.
“He’s one of the best in the league and when he gets that speed going, I don’t think there’s many ‘Ds’ that can stop him,” said Hampus Lindholm, who along with Josh Manson was tasked with shutting down McDavid.
“You just gotta respect him, try to keep him outside and you don’t want to let that guy pick up speed.”
It was Lindholm who opened the scoring 2:28 into the first, as he impressed on both sides of the ice.
With frenetic energy around the net that characterized their play all night, Ryan Kesler continued to hack at a rebound in front of Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, and eventually the puck made its way to Lindholm, who blasted it through traffic.
Over and over, the Ducks were able to consistently keep the puck alive in the zone, which seemed to tire out the quicker, younger Oilers squad.
They grabbed a 2-0 lead late in the second period after Leon Draisaitl (46 points in 48 games) attempt to flip it out of the zone, only to see it collected by Ryan Getzlaf’s glove.
The captain quickly flipped it to Corey Perry on the breakaway and he beat Talbot five-hole.
He has seven points in his last four games, and suddenly, Perry looks rejuvenated. The former 50-goal scorer was demoted to the fourth line but he’s back playing on the top unit with Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell.
“Our forwards did a great job tonight controlling pucks down low,” Manson said. “ … They helped slow down their forwards for us and they were a little bit more hungry at the net.”