ANAHEIM, Calif. -- To a man the Anaheim Ducks were cognizant of the poor record NHL posted after a mandatory five-day bye was introduced this season. Receiving balanced scoring and a solid goaltending performance, they concluded the Toronto Maple Leafs' misery on its current trip through the Sunshine State. Rickard Rakell scored two goals and Jonathan Bernier made 37 saves as the Anaheim Ducks defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on Friday. Anaheim (33-21-10) won its first game coming off their bye week and pulled into a tie with the Edmonton Oilers for second place in the Pacific Division, both teams have 76 points with 18 games remaining on the schedule. Sami Vatanen registered a goal and an assist and Ryan Getzlaf added two assists. Toronto (28-22-14) lost its fifth straight game, including all three games played against California teams. They trail the New York Islanders for the second wildcard in the Eastern conference by one point with New York holding a game in hand. Nazem Kadri and Zach Hyman scored goals for Toronto. Curtis McIlhenny made 31 saves. With teams playing to a combined 4-12-4 record coming off the bye, the Ducks knew the importance of raising their level in the season's final 19 games, "Everyone in this room knows the importance of these games," said Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg. "We knew we had to pick up the pace." The victory over Toronto was a special one for Bernier, who was traded by the Leafs to the Ducks in the final year of his contract. Bernier has filled in for John Gibson, who has missed the last four games with a lower-body injury. "I won't lie this game was special to me," Bernier said. "You always want to play well against the team that traded you." The Maple Leafs trek through California was a fruitless one, only earning one point in three games against the Sharks, Kings and Ducks. Their inability to tighten up defensively cost them this game and may ultimately by the deciding factor if they fail to make the playoffs. Coach Mike Babcock knows that high scoring, poor defensive teams rarely make the post season. "You can't win by getting a touchdown in the National Hockey League," Babcock said. "You got to play right. We gave them three free goals, that was disappointing." The Ducks took a 1-0 lead on Rakell's 25th goal of the season at 10:40 of the first period. Rakell finished a two-on-one rush by one-timing a feed from Chris Wagner after Wagner shrugged off a check by Toronto defenseman Alexey Marchenko on the right-wing boards. The Maple Leafs tied the score at 1 on Zach Hyman's ninth goal of the season at 16:15 of the first period. Hyman deflected a shot from the point by Nikita Zaitsev, with William Nylander drawing the secondary assist. The goal was ruled good after a video challenge by the Ducks claiming the play was offside. Toronto took a 2-1 on Kadri's 26th goal on the power play at 5:53 of the second period. Kadri backhanded a rebound of an attempt of a Tyler Bozak shot with Mitchell Marner drawing the secondary assist. The Ducks scored two goals in 16 seconds to retake the lead at 3-2. Silfverberg knotted the score with his 18th goal of the season at 9:41 on a top-shelf backhand shot and then Rakell followed with his second goal of the game, his 26th of the season, at 9:57 of the second, converting a rebound of a Hampus Lindholm shot from the left point. The Ducks extended to a 4-2 advantage on Sami Vatanen's third goal of the season at 1:19 of the third period. Ryan Getzlaf controlled a rebound of Patrick Eaves shot and his cross-ice feed found Vatanen alone for a one-timer. Eaves added an empty net goal, his 22nd of the season and first as a Duck at 18:46 of the third period to close out the scoring. NOTES: Toronto scratched RW Ben Smith, C Eric Fehr, LW Josh Leivo and D Martin Marincin. ... The Leafs return home Tuesday to face the Detroit Red Wings starting a brief two game home stand. Toronto dropped to 9-10-7 against the Western Conference this season. ... The Ducks did not dress D Korbinian Holzer, RW Jared Boll, G John Gibson and C Antoine Vermette. Vermette continues to serve a 10-game suspension. ... Anaheim made four transactions during their bye week. On Wednesday, they acquired C Sam Carrick and LW Spencer Abbott from Chicago in exchange for LW Kenton Helgesen and a seventh-round selection in the 2019 draft and C Chris Wagner was recalled from San Diego (AHL). D Brandon Montour was recalled from San Diego yesterday, Montour has been a regular in the Ducks lineup and the organization wanted to keep him active during the break. ... RW Logan Shaw was inked to a one year extension for a reported $650,000.
Rakell leads Ducks past Leafs
The Sports Xchange | Mar 4