By Adam Brady
ANAHEIM – The Ducks haven’t shown much in the early going of games as of late, but boy do they turn it on down the stretch.
For the second straight game, Anaheim got off to a sluggish start but came roaring back, this time scoring three in the third to slip past the visiting Edmonton Oilers, 3-2. Francois Beauchemin hammered a one-timer that squeezed under the arm of former Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth with 1:21 left in regulation for the eventual game-winner.
"Their team was taking away the far side, so I just tried to shoot it as hard as I could," Beauchemin said. "I knew Pears [Corey Perry] was going for a rebound if it was there. Fortunately, it went in. I was pretty happy with that one."
The Ducks (50-18-8) notched their franchise-best 50th win of the season while increasing their lead in the Pacific Division to three points over San Jose.
Perry assisted on Beauchemin’s winner and scored the other two third-period goals in the final period, including one that tied the game with 8:35 left. "We’ve been a team that’s worked hard all year," said Perry, who notched his 40th and 41st goals of the season. "We have that never-say-die attitude. If we can continue to push and play the right way for a full 60 minutes, we’ll be all right."
The Ducks were held at bay over the first two periods by Fasth, who was traded to Edmonton on March 4 for a pair of draft picks. But the Ducks finally got the best of him not long after an Edmonton goal three minutes into the third, as Matt Beleskey fished the puck away from the left wing wall and fed Perry, who roofed a wrist shot from the slot.
Anaheim tied it eight minutes later as Monday night overtime hero Stephane Robidas threw the puck on net from near the right wing wall, and Perry just barely deflected it by Fasth with the stick blade. (Robidas scored the OT winner two evenings ago against Winnipeg in a game where the Ducks trailed 4-0 and eventually prevailed 5-4.)
"We always know we have a chance," Beauchemin said. "We’re pretty good playing with the lead, as well. It’s a lot less stressful playing with a lead. We killed a big penalty just before my goal. That was a big momentum change."
The Oilers scored the lone goal in a mostly pedestrian first 40 minutes, on the power play following a Mathieu Perreault tripping penalty. Philip Larsen whipped a shot from the left wing that sailed through a Ryan Smyth screen and eluded goalie Frederik Andersen.
Andersen had 30 saves in improving to 19-5-0 on the season and made a big stop just before the Beauchemin strike. "That’s twice he’s come up with a big save," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "He made a big save when it was 2-0 right after their goal. Then we score right away. What a swing. There’s no way we would’ve come back from 3-0, but Freddie stood tall and made a great save."
Edmonton made it 2-0 less than three minutes into the third when Taylor Hall made a pretty pass from the left wing to Jordan Eberle, who tossed it in.
The win was retribution for a disappointing Ducks defeat last Friday night to the conference-worst Oilers, who edged Anaheim 4-3 in overtime at Rexall Place.
"The idea of reaching 50 wins is pretty cool, quite frankly," Boudreau said. "There’s only going to be a few teams that do it, and when you’re one of them, it’s quite an accomplishment. I’m pretty proud of the guys for 50 wins."
The Ducks will look to keep it going at Honda Center against the Nashville Predators on Friday night.
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