ANAHEIM, Calif. — Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson drew a tough assignment in his return from a lower-body injury: Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.
Turns out he was up for the challenge.
Gibson made 30 saves, Ryan Kesler scored early in the third period and the Ducks held on for a 3-2 win over the Oilers on Friday night.
Gibson had missed four straight games. Corey Perry also scored for the Ducks, who are tied with San Jose and Calgary for third place in the Pacific Division with 64 points.
“Gibby has been playing unreal,” said defenseman Hampus Lindholm, who had a goal and an assist. “He’s a world-class goalie. Everybody knows that. It was nice to see him back in the net.”
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle credited Gibson’s efforts in the second period with helping the team regain its composure and setting the stage for Kesler to tip in Lindholm’s shot 3:04 into the third for a 3-1 lead. Gibson stopped all five shots he faced on the penalty kill, including a dangerous one-timer by Leon Draisaitl off a precision pass through the slot by McDavid.
“We started turning the puck over and they had us hemmed in the zone,” Carlyle said. “We took two penalties and our penalty killing provided us with the opportunity to get into the third (still leading). That was the difference, and usually your best penalty-killer is your goaltender.”
Anton Slepyshev and Kris Russell scored for the Oilers, who dropped the first two games of their three-game California trip. Cam Talbot made 31 saves.
Anaheim jumped in front 2:28 into the first period on Lindholm’s eighth goal. Lindholm’s shot struck Edmonton defenseman Andrej Sekera in the leg and redirected past Talbot.
It was the fifth time in the Oilers’ last six games that they allowed the opening goal. They are 9-22-2 when the opponent scores first.
Edmonton has trailed at least 2-0 in each of those five games after Perry scored his 11th goal at 15:50 of the second. Ryan Getzlaf caught Russell’s attempt to clear the puck with his left hand and fed Perry, who scored for the third time in four games.
“I will take a lot of the heat on this one because that stuff can’t happen,” Russell said. “I just need to make the safe play. It makes it harder on our team and harder on our goaltenders when you give up chances like that.”
Perry is on a four-game point streak, with three goals and four assists in that span. Getzlaf had an assist for the third consecutive game.
Slepyshev scored on a breakaway at 16:58 of the second, making it 2-1. It was his first goal in 13 games.
Slepyshev saw an increased workload after Drake Caggiula was hit in the face by a puck midway through the second and did not return. Sekera also departed after being struck by a puck. He played just 3:30.
Oilers coach Todd McLellan said Caggiula and Sekera are questionable to play against San Jose on Saturday.
McDavid found a streaking Russell to cut the Ducks’ lead to 3-2 at 14:55 of the third. The Oilers nearly tied it off the ensuing faceoff on a shot by Mark Letestu, but the Ducks were able to close out the game, with Kesler winning two late face-offs.
“You really can’t push for anything more from your guys because you know that there has been a lot of hockey played and road trips and whatnot,” Carlyle said. “Just find a way to be the difference, and tonight we were lucky enough to get that done.”
NOTES: Oilers D Adam Larsson missed his fifth straight game following the death of his father. … The Ducks assigned G Retto Berra and LW Nic Kerdiles to their AHL affiliate in San Diego prior to the game.
Oilers: Visit the Sharks on Saturday night.
Ducks: Host the Sharks on Sunday.
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