The Associated Press
ANAHEIM, Calif.–The Edmonton Oilers have been reduced to playing spoiler in the playoff race.
But it’s a role they seem to be relishing, creating plenty of drama along the way.
Ryan Strome scored twice as the Oilers recovered to top the Anaheim Ducks 6-5 in a shootout yesterday after giving up two goals in the final 21 seconds of regulation time.
After nearly allowing the L.A. Kings to overcome a two-goal deficit in the final 18 seconds of a 4-3 win Saturday, the Oilers found themselves playing extra hockey yesterday when Rickard Rakell scored with 20.9 seconds remaining in the third period to make it 5-4 and then tied it with just 6.3 seconds to play.
He beat Al Montoya with a wrist shot from the slot after Derek Grant won the face-off against Leon Draisaitl.
Following a wide-open overtime in which both teams had plenty of chances to win, Draisaitl and Connor McDavid scored in the shootout for Edmonton while Montoya stopped shots by Ryan Getzlaf and Ondrej Kase after Rakell made his.
“When you’re not really in the hunt anymore, you’ve got to find ways to keep yourself motivated and we’ve definitely been able to do that,” said McDavid, who had three assists yesterday.
“I think our last two games have been two of the best that we’ve played in a long time and it’s good to see.”
Draisaitl scored in his third-straight game for the Oilers, who now have won three-straight and four-of-five.
Anton Slepyshev and Iiro Pakarinen also scored while Montoya made 41 saves to earn the win.
Michael Cammalleri had two assists, giving him 12 in his last 12 games.
Rakell had his first career hat trick and Getzlaf added a goal and two assists for the Ducks, who have earned at least one point in six-straight home games.
Adam Henrique added a power-play goal while Ryan Miller stopped 37 shots.
The Oilers haven’t had much go right this season. They made two trades over the weekend and appeared poised to move Patrick Maroon before today’s deadline after the forward was held out for the third-straight game.
Despite the turmoil, they also are delivering some of their best performances right now.
“It shows character in the room,” Montoya said.
“The core is committed to this team, and they help and lead the way.”
While the Oilers were surging this weekend, the Ducks went on a downward trend.
They took only one of a possible four points against Edmonton and Arizona, the bottom two teams in the Pacific Division, and were sluggish from the start yesterday.
Getzlaf made a poor pass at the blueline right to Cammalleri in the neutral zone, and he fed Draisaitl for a shot between Miller’s legs to put the Oilers up 1-0 just 13 seconds into the game.
“We played good for four or five games in a row and then this weekend we just kind of were a little bit flat,” admitted Getzlaf, who made amends by helping set up Rakell’s goal at 1:46 to tie it at 1-1.
“It’s hard to explain but it’s just the reality of it.
“So, proud of the way we came back, got a point, and we’ve got to build off that and get ready for the push here,” he stressed.
By rallying for one point, Anaheim moved into third place in the Pacific Division with 74 points.
The Ducks are one point ahead of Calgary, which dropped to the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
“We pulled our goaltender and scored two goals,” noted Ducks’ coach Randy Carlyle.
“You don’t know what that point is going to mean at the end of the year.”
Elsewhere in the NHL, Vancouver beat Arizona 3-1, Minnesota edged San Jose 3-2 (OT), Nashville blanked St. Louis 4-0, Buffalo downed Boston 4-1, and Detroit nipped the N.Y. Rangers 3-2 (OT).