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Ducks can’t match Oilers in return from bye week

Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports
The Ducks fell 5-3 to the Oilers in their first game back from the bye week.

ANAHEIM, Calif. – It was a mighty test for the Ducks in their first game out of the bye week, facing the high-flying Edmonton Oilers. The Ducks matched the Oilers for most of the game, but couldn’t close things out in the latter stages of the third period, falling 5-3.

Cam Fowler opened the scoring for Anaheim with a seeing-eye shot on the power play which beat Calvin Pickard from the point. It was Fowler’s first power play tally of the season and just his third goal as a whole. Adam Henrique extended his point streak to seven games with the secondary assist on Fowler’s goal. The bye week appears to have done a world of good for the Ducks, who looked full of energy, especially to close out the first period.

“We had energy (in the first period) and we were jumping and we generated chances and we had quality shots,” said head coach Greg Cronin. “I think it went really well. I thought we played a good first period.”

Edmonton would answer in the form of Evander Kane midway through the second, with the winger picking the top corner on John Gibson’s short side, with ever-present pest Corey Perry playing a role. The former Duck had slashed Gibson’s stick out of his hands moments before while Gibson was playing the puck behind the net and the netminder had some words for the referee following the goal against.

Feb 9, 2024; Anaheim, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers right wing Corey Perry (90) falls on top of an Anaheim Ducks player during the first period of a game at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

But Anaheim would answer back in a flash, with Adam Henrique and Leo Carlsson combining to create a high-quality scoring chance for Ryan Strome, who potted his first home goal of the season. Carlsson’s deft touch pass placed the puck in prime position for Strome to easily collect and turn toward the goal without pressure, with the Oilers’ defense having already transitioned up the ice. This time though, the Oilers wouldn’t let the Ducks finish another period with the lead. Kane would tie the game again with his second of the game, converting on an odd-man rush.

Lukáš Dostál would relieve John Gibson to begin the third, with the latter leaving the game due to a lower-body injury. At this time, there is no further update on Gibson’s status. The only statement Cronin could offer after the game was that Gibson “cramped up or something.”

Strome would give the Ducks the lead early in the third, converting on the power play for his second of the game. However, Edmonton would once again tie the game five minutes later. A mixup in coverage while defending allowed Zach Hyman to drive to the crease uncovered, where he was on hand to redirect home a pass from Connor McDavid.

Feb 9, 2024; Anaheim, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Zach Hyman (18) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period of a game at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

A tripping penalty taken by Carlsson allowed the Oilers to take their first lead of the game, with Leon Draisaitil converting a one-timer from his off-wing––a scoring location that has become quite familiar for the German forward. Kane would ice the game with an empty net goal to get the hat trick with just over a minute remaining in the third.

“I thought we played well,” said Carlsson. “Good competitiveness. Bad tripping call on me that cost the game. A little disappointed. There were a couple of calls that went against us, but I don’t really want to get into that too much.”

“I thought we deserved the win today, but they’re a good team and they have two of the best players in the world. Hard to stop them sometimes.”

Feb 9, 2024; Anaheim, California, USA; Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Strome (16) scores a goal against Edmonton Oilers goaltender Calvin Pickard (30) during the second period of a game at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

“Frustrating game,” said Strome. “I think that we deserved a little bit of a better fate. I thought we worked really hard, we did a lot of really good things. They’re a really good hockey team, they’re on a hell of a roll right now and they’re finding ways to win.”

“Give that team a power play in the third period, it’s more often than not going to be a goal. All in all, I think it was a good effort by us. A lot of positives to keep drawing from and we’ve been on a pretty good run the last four or five games. We’ve just got to keep building and not get frustrated by this result.”

“I thought it was Ryan Strome’s best game in a long time,” said Cronin. “I thought (Carlsson) did really well, it’s his first time playing Edmonton. Some guys struggle with that speed and size. There was pace to his game. I thought he battled hard.”