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Ducks continue playoff push by hosting Oilers
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Anaheim Ducks continue to battle for playoff position in the Western Conference by hosting the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.
Anaheim ended a five-game eastern road trip with a victory in Buffalo on Tuesday. Edmonton began its California trek of three games in four nights with a loss to Los Angeles on Wednesday. This marks the second of four meetings this season with Anaheim winning the first in a shootout in Edmonton 2-1 on Jan. 4.
The Ducks (26-19-10) halted a three-game losing streak with their overtime victory versus the Sabres. Ryan Miller made 30 saves in the 4-3 win. Over the past 10 games, Anaheim is 6-3-1.
The Oilers (23-25-4) had won five of seven games and gained points in six of seven before losing 5-2 to Los Angeles. Cam Talbot allowed three goals and made 23 saves in the loss. The last two Kings goals went into the empty net.
The Ducks remain in the Western Conference playoff hunt and are sitting just outside a playoff spot via a top-three finish in the Pacific or being one of two wild-card teams. Edmonton sits 15 points out of wild-card position.
Anaheim goaltender John Gibson may return after being injured in Boston on Jan. 30 and went on injured reserve. Having him healthy will inject the Ducks with confidence. Backup Ryan Miller serves as a capable option, but was chased from the net in Montreal on Saturday after allowing three goals on seven shots and allowed six goals versus Toronto on Monday.
Coach Randy Carlyle called Miller's poor performances a "surprise" and told the Orange County Register: "We went right back to him, and I thought he performed very well in Buffalo."
Up front, the Ducks hope that their leading points-getter continues his scoring streak. Rickard Rakell (22 goals, 45 points) has points in his last five games, including four goals.
Adam Henrique is also going well. He joined the team in a trade with New Jersey in late November and has scored 12 goals for Anaheim, including the winning overtime goal against Buffalo. Henrique has 32 points this season (16 goals) and five game-winning goals while with Anaheim to lead the team in that category.
"He has that unique ability to rise to the occasion," Carlyle said of Henrique's play in Buffalo. "He's scored some big goals in the short term for our hockey club. It was a big-time shot in overtime."
The Oilers muster elite scoring at times as well. Center Connor McDavid (22 goals, 63 points) registered a goal and an assist versus Los Angeles in the shadow of his four-goal and five-point outburst versus Tampa Bay in Edmonton on Monday. McDavid has seven goals in his last three games.
Edmonton needs to be ready to go when the puck drops. It allowed goals shortly after the start of the first and second periods in Los Angeles. The Oilers evened the game at 2-2 but could not finish.
Said coach Todd McLellan: "I thought we started a little bit slow. Obviously getting scored on in the first shot with the face-off loss wasn't something we planned or wanted. We've been through that scenario too many times this season."
Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton's second leading scorer with 14 goals and 46 points, added: "We just need better starts in general. I think that we've had that problem a lot this year where we're kind of chasing the game. You know, it obviously shows character that we came back, but too bad we couldn't close it out."
Draisaitl has points in eight of the past nine games (13 total), including a goal versus the Kings on the power play.
Updated February 8, 2018