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G34 Game Notes: Oilers face Ducks looking to complete sweep of California trip
By Cam Lewis1 month ago
1. After beating the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night, the Edmonton Oilers will have an opportunity to sweep their three-game California road trip when they face the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday.
They started the trip with an easy 5-0 win over the San Jose Sharks and then passed a much larger test with a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings a couple of nights later. Heading into that game, the Kings boasted the best points percentage in the Western Conference and the Oilers came back from a 2-0 first-period deficit before winning in the shootout.
2. Thanks to their current four-game winning streak, the Oilers are above the .500 mark for the first time this season with a 17-15-1 record. The Oilers are still down at 12th in the Western Conference standings with 35 points but they have games in hand on just about everyone ahead of them and are ninth in the standings in terms of points percentage.
Jumping over teams in the standings isn’t an easy task but the Oilers have a very favourable schedule on the horizon that should help them. Between Sunday’s game in Anaheim and the All-Star break in late January, nine of the twelve games the Oilers play will be against teams who aren’t in a playoff spot right now. Games against basement-dwellers like the Ducks are points the Oilers need to bank to make life easier for themselves down the stretch.
3. The Ducks got off to a pretty good start to the season but have unsurprisingly fallen down the standings since. Since their six-game winning streak in late October and early November, Anaheim has gone 6-18-0. They have the third-lowest points percentage in the NHL, ahead of only the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks.
The team ranks 29th in the league with 91 goals for and 18th with 115 against. Frank Vatrano leads the way with 16 goals and Mason McTavish and Adam Henrique are the only other two who have reached the 10-goal mark on the season. John Gibson has had a solid season in net, as his .909 save percentage through 23 starts is higher than what he’s posted over each of the past four seasons.
It’ll be interesting to see who the Ducks move ahead of the trade deadline. Henrique is a pending unrestricted free agent and would be a nice addition to a team that needs a versatile veteran forward who can score goals. Gibson has three more years left on his contract with a $6.4 million cap hit with a 10-team no-trade list but there’s been plenty of speculation it might be time for a change.
Barring some unforeseen miracle turnaround, this will be Anaheim’s sixth consecutive year missing the playoffs. The longest playoff drought they had before this in team history was three years.
4. This will be the second of four meetings between the Oilers and Ducks this season. Back in November, the Ducks came into Edmonton and the Oilers beat them by a score of 8-2 for what was the sixth loss in an eventual eight-game losing streak.
The last time the Ducks beat the Oilers came last December when they pulled off a 4-3 shocker despite being outshot 49 to 17. Since then, Edmonton has beaten Anaheim in four consecutive meetings, outscoring them 23-5 in the process.
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