The Anaheim Ducks are hoping history repeats itself after clinching the Pacific Division title.
Rookie goaltender Viktor Fasth made 24 saves and the Ducks defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-0 on Monday to win the division for the first time since 2007 — the year they went on to win the franchise’s lone Stanley Cup.
Ryan Getzlaf, Radek Dvorak and Sami Vatanen scored for the Ducks (29-11-6), who won back-to-back games in Edmonton to also secure second place in the Western Conference in the process.
“It feels great to capture the division,” said Fasth, who recorded his fourth shutout of the season. “We still have to keep working hard, but the last two games have been a step in the right direction for us. I think we were even better in this game than we were the night before. We still have things to work on before the playoffs, though.”
The Ducks had lost four in a row before the double-dip of victories in Edmonton.
“First and foremost we needed to get back to our game and playing well,” said Anaheim defenceman Francois Beauchemin. “We needed to get some confidence and score some goals. To get two wins here was good for us and it’s great to get wrap up the division, but we still want to get better and have some real momentum going into the playoffs.”
The Oilers (17-21-7) have now lost eight of their last nine and seem destined for yet another high draft pick in the off-season.
“We saw an `A’ game from Anaheim tonight and we just couldn’t match it,” said Oilers head coach Ralph Krueger. “They were hungry to get their second place in the Western Conference wrapped up and it was a show for us what playoff teams are playing like and thinking like right now. We just can’t rise to that level right now.
“The disappointment when you look at us right now is you don’t recognize the team that was in eighth place at the 35-game mark. What has happened here is frustrating for everybody.”
Anaheim started the scoring six minutes in on the power play as Getzlaf picked the puck out of a scramble out front and calmly slipped his 15th of the season past Oilers starter Nikolai Khabibulin.
The Ducks went up 2-0 at 11:48 as Emerson Etem was left alone to send a beautiful no-look backhand pass to Dvorak for an easy tap-in.
The only good chance in a listless and scoreless second period belonged to the Ducks, as Kyle Palmieri was alone in tight but stoned on a quick glove save by Khabibulin with two minutes remaining.
The shots were 18-16 in Anaheim’s favour after 40 minutes.
The Ducks took a three-goal lead four minutes into the third frame as Vatanen sent a long shot through traffic that found the top corner of the net.
Krueger said he is past the point of getting mad with his squad.
“Right now screaming and yelling and beating up on this team is not going to help them,” he said. “They need to look inside to see what is missing and what are we doing different than these other teams and try and work on that. It is all we have left right now.”
Next up for the Oilers is a home date against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday. The Ducks finish off a four-game road trip in Vancouver on Thursday.
Notes: The Ducks officially eliminated the Oilers from playoff contention on Sunday, making them the team with the longest active post-season drought, having missed the playoffs for the last seven seasons dating back to their Game 7 loss in the Stanley Cup finals to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006... Oilers centre Eric Belanger made his return from a groin injury to play his first game since missing the last 13 contests. He took the place of Magnus Paajarvi, who was nursing a foot injury... Also out for the Oilers were three players presumably gone for the remainder of the season - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder), Ales Hemsky (foot) and Lennart Petrell (leg)... Significant absences from the Anaheim lineup included defensemen Luca Sbisa (lower body) and Sheldon Souray (lower body), who missed his second straight game against his former team. Ducks forward Bobby Ryan was a late scratch with an illness.