The Anaheim Ducks stumbled through the past five weeks with just three wins. Their lineup has been decimated by injuries, and they’ve fallen short in close games with a dismaying regularity.
When they held off the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night by showing all the late-game poise they’ve lacked, the Ducks found themselves in third place in the Pacific Division in spite of it all.
Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and an assist, John Gibson made 25 saves for his 100th career victory and the Ducks snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over the skidding Canucks.
Ondrej Kase, Adam Henrique and Kalle Kossila also scored for the Ducks, who had lost 12 of 15 since the last time they scored four goals in a game back on Oct. 17.
Even while Anaheim has struggled through these injury-plagued five weeks, the Ducks have still collected enough overtime points to stay in the Pacific race. This win pushed them past Vancouver and into third place, a mere four points off the lead.
It’s only November, but the standings matter to the Ducks, who are thrilled to be keeping pace.
“When you get in tough times, it’s nice to look and understand that it’s a long season and there is time to turn it around,” said Getzlaf, who is Anaheim’s leading scorer despite missing six games with injuries. “Luckily enough, our division hasn’t pulled away from us at the start of the year here. So we’re getting points. We’re scrapping and clawing, and we just keep going.”
Kase scored on a pass by defenseman Josh Mahura, who earned his first NHL point in his second game.
The Ducks are playing without injured defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Cam Fowler, forcing them to use four rookie blueliners — including Mahura — who have all played in fewer than 50 career games. Anaheim hadn’t used four rookie defensemen in the same game since the 1994-95 season, but coach Randy Carlyle must improvise in the absence of his two team leaders in minutes played.
“We’ve got to stick together in here,” said Henrique, who scored early in the third period. “Some teams fall apart in the dressing room, and we’re sticking together. We’ve just kept working on things, and everything has gotten better.”
Bo Horvat, Derrick Pouliot and Jake Virtanen scored in the Canucks’ seventh consecutive loss.
“I don’t know what the number is right now, but it (stinks),” Pouliot said. “We are trying to come to work every night. Something has got to give. Eventually we’re going to break through.”
Pouliot scored early in the second period on a slick cross-ice pass from Sam Gagner, who got his first point since returning to the Canucks. After scoring 31 points for Vancouver last season, Gagner was waived Oct. 1 and eventually sent to the AHL, only to be recalled last weekend when injuries drastically thinned the Canucks’ forward lines.
Jacob Markstrom stopped 32 shots as Vancouver failed to rally from a late two-goal deficit and remained winless since Nov. 8 despite pushing aggressively for a tying goal in the final minutes.
“It didn’t feel like the last game, that’s for sure,” Canucks coach Travis Green said of a 6-3 home loss to Winnipeg on Monday. “I liked our push at the end. It was a close game. We’ve got to find a way. We’re making a couple of little mistakes that are costing us, and we’ve got to clean that up.”
Kossila put the Ducks up 4-2 midway through the third period when he converted a pass in the slot from Brian Gibbons for his first goal of the season and second of his NHL career. Gibbons’ assist was his first point in 17 games with Anaheim.
Horvat scored his 11th goal on a deflection with 4:44 left to keep Vancouver in it.
NOTES: Anaheim has won three straight home games against Vancouver, matching its franchise record in the rivalry. … The Canucks are without five injured regulars, including star Brock Boeser, who missed his ninth straight game with a groin injury. … Lindholm missed his second consecutive game with a lower-body injury. Fowler is out indefinitely with broken bones in his face after getting hit by a puck. … Gibson became the fourth goalie to win 100 games with the Ducks, joining Jean-Sebastien Giguere (206), Guy Hebert (173) and Jonas Hiller (162).
Ducks: Host Edmonton on Friday.
Canucks: At San Jose on Friday.
Source: The Associated Press