LAS VEGAS (AP) — Beset by injuries earlier this season, the Anaheim Ducks are certainly glad to be back at full strength.
Jakob Silfverberg and Ryan Getzlaf scored to lead Anaheim over the Vegas Golden Knights 2-0 in their Pacific Division showdown Monday night.
“The last half of the season we’ve had our full team, and we’ve been picking up some steam these last couple of games,” Silfverberg said. “This road trip, at least, we’ve been playing some pretty good hockey. Tonight, we played one of the best teams in the league and I think we played them really solid defensively. We didn’t give them a lot of chances. This is the type of hockey we want to play and hopefully we continue doing it.”
Anaheim regained sole possession of third place in the division, two points ahead of Los Angeles and Calgary. The Ducks are a point behind second-place San Jose.
“It’s tight along that playoff line and we’ve been playing well lately,” Silfverberg said. “I think everyone knows where we’re at. I think our team performs better under pressure. We’ve seen that these last few games. Hopefully we can keep rolling on this kind of wave.”
Starting goalie John Gibson (22-15-6) stopped all 13 shots he saw for Anaheim but was inadvertently clipped by Vegas’ Reilly Smith behind the net with three seconds left in the second period and didn’t return due to a lower-body injury.
Backup goalie Ryan Miller played a clean third, stopping 20 shots to preserve the win.
Golden Knights netminder Marc-Andre Fleury (19-7-2) made 18 saves.
It marked the third time the Golden Knights have been shut out, the second at home. Dallas won 3-0 at T-Mobile Arena on Nov. 28, and Vegas was blanked 1-0 at Nashville on Jan. 16.
“It was a pretty tight game both ways. There wasn’t a lot of room out there,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. “We were defending fairly well, and they came with a big push in the third period. We knew that was coming. … We haven’t beaten this hockey club this year so it’s always nice when you can come in and beat the first-place hockey team.”
Though Vegas outshot Anaheim 33-20, the Ducks did an excellent job congesting the passing lanes over the first two periods and slowing a normally up-tempo Vegas team by getting physical every time it tried to attack.
Playing heavy against one of the fastest lineups in the league, the Ducks outhit Vegas 28-25.
“We knew this was a very crucial win for our group,” Anaheim defenseman Josh Manson said. “That was a better game for us. I think it’s one of the better games we played in a while. We knew they were going to get on us fast. We knew we had to support the puck for small passes. Sometimes you just have to make the simple play, chip it up the wall.”
The Ducks improved to 15-11-7 on the road and have won four of their last five away from home. Anaheim became just the seventh opponent — and fifth in regulation — to win on Vegas’ home ice.
And while the Ducks have enjoyed playing at full strength, Vegas missed forwards Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who is on injured reserve with an upper-body injury, and James Neal, who was a late scratch. With the team minus Neal, a catalyst for the Golden Knights’ second line, Alex Tuch stepped in to play with David Perron and Erik Haula.
“He’s a big part of our line, for sure. We know what we want to do out there,” Perron said of Neal. “We do a lot of little plays, like possession plays, and it’s tough for Tuchy to come in and kind of get in that. Maybe he has a different mentality. He hasn’t really played that way this year — he’s more of a speed guy. I felt we got better throughout the game. We had some chances.”
Silfverberg gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead after setting up in the slot and tipping in Andrew Cogliano’s wrist shot past defenseman Brad Hunt and Fleury. It was Silfverberg’s 13th goal of the season, Cogliano’s 17th assist and Rickard Rakell’s 25th assist.
Getzlaf, who played in his 898th game, thought he had given the Ducks a two-goal lead in the second period, but a replay review revealed Rakell was offside.
Seven minutes into the third, Getzlaf’s knuckler trickled through Fleury’s legs to make it 2-0.
Vegas, which leads the NHL with 82 points, dropped to 22-5-2 at home. The 22 home wins match the NHL mark for an expansion team set by Gordie Howe and the Hartford Whalers in 1979-80.
NOTES: The Golden Knights, who have scored a power-play goal in 12 of the last 14 games, were 0 for 2 with the man advantage. … The Golden Knights were also without Shea Theodore (scratch) and Brendan Lepsic (healthy scratch). … Before the game, Vegas recalled forwards Stefan Matteau and Tomas Hyka from Chicago of the AHL. … Anaheim’s Ondrej Kase is two games shy of 100 for his career.
Ducks: Host the Dallas Stars on Wednesday.
Golden Knights: Host the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.
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