Rakell gets decisive goal in Ducks’ win over Flames
ANAHEIM, Calif. — There were two constants in the game between the Calgary Flames and the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center on Friday night.
The Flames lost and Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler is returning quickly to his usual self.
Rickard Rakell scored the decisive third-period power-play goal as the Ducks defeated the Flames 2-1.
Anaheim (17-14-8) won for the third time in its last four contests to even the season series between the teams at 1-1. Cam Fowler registered the other Ducks goal and goaltender John Gibson made 22 saves.
The Ducks have won 26 of their last 27 (26-1-0) against Calgary and are 28-9-2 overall vs. Calgary dating back to Nov. 29, 2007.
Calgary (18-16-4) lost its third straight game and has dropped lost six of its last eight. Michael Ferland scored the lone Flames goal and Mike Smith stopped 39 shots.
Despite not hitting the scoresheet, Kesler was a major influence throughout the game. He was involved in a fight with Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk in the first period, blocked two shots to set the tempo in just his second game after missing 37 games recovering from off-season hip surgery.
Kesler’s return has not gone unnoticed by Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle. The intangibles that the former Selke Trophy winner brings to the ice are essential if the Ducks are to qualify for the post season for a sixth consecutive season.
“Kesler is playing to his strong suits,” Carlyle said. “It’s what we have asked of all our players. When you have players like Ryan Kesler leading the way with blocked shots and determination, he drags other people to the fight with him.”
The Ducks came out quickly as an answer to a poor performance in Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. Fowler was not surprised at the better effort throughout.
“When we’re moving our feet, that’s when we’re at our best,” Fowler said. “We felt like we got back into our style of hockey tonight, making it difficult on other teams mainly on the forecheck. I thought our guys did a great job forechecking.”
The Flames continue to stagger through an underachieving season. They were outshot 41-23 and were dominated in the first and third periods, only Smith’s fine goaltending kept them in it. Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan is searching for answers but sees multiple issues affecting his team’s play.
“I don’t think it’s completely a lack of confidence,” Gulutzan said. “I think it’s a lack of execution. We have to bear down, we had a power play in the last four minutes of the game. We needed to generate offense and we did not.’
The Ducks took a 1-0 lead on Fowler’s fifth goal of the season at 3:48 of the first period. Fowler penetrated to the net and was in position for a backhand shot after Ryan Getzlaf whiffed on the puck just in front of Smith. Rakell had the secondary assist.
Anaheim had an apparent power-play goal taken off the board at 19:58 of the first period when a video review determined Kesler kicked the puck into the net.
The Flames tied the game at 1-1 on Ferland’s 15th goal of the season at 11:55 of the second period. Gibson stopped Matt Bartkowski’s slap shot from the blueline but Ferland beat Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin to the deep rebound to bat it home. Smith was awarded a rare secondary assist, his second of the season.
The Ducks regained the lead at 2-1 on Rakell’s power-play goal, his 12th of the season, at 2:17 of the third period. Jakob Silfverberg and Getzlaf worked a quick give-and-go that allowed Rakell to break in on the back door for a wrist shot into an open net.
Rakell has registered goals in four consecutive games.
NOTES: Flames RW Michael Frolik was scratched after suffering a broken jaw and the loss of several teeth after being struck by a shot from San Jose’s Brent Burns during the first period of Calgary’s 3-2 shootout loss in San Jose on Thursday night. Coach Glen Gulutzan said he is week-to-week. ... Calgary did not dress C Freddie Hamilton, D Brett Kulak and Frolik. ... Legendary Flames RW Jaromir Jagr played in his 1,733rd NHL game, passing Ron Francis for third place on the all-time list. Jagr, 45, is just 36 games away from being the all-time leader in games played. ... Anaheim scratched D Korbinian Holzer, C Derek Grant and D Andy Welinski. ... The Ducks will ring in the New Year on Sunday afternoon at home against the Arizona Coyotes. ... Anaheim assigned C Dennis Rasmussen to its AHL San Diego affiliate after clearing waivers.