Anaheim Ducks right winger Radek Dvorak came into Monday night’s contest with the Edmonton Oilers with just one point on the season, but turned out to be the x-factor as the Ducks beat the Oilers 2-1. Dvorak scored both Ducks’ goals and helped send the Oilers to their third straight loss.
Dvorak signed with the Ducks on March 26th after starting the year in Switzerland, and has now scored three goals in five games. The 20-year NHL veteran played for the Dallas Stars in 2011-12 and finished with 21 points in 73 games.
Dvorak opened up the scoring Monday when he beat Oilers’ netminder Devan Dubnyk with just under three minutes left in the first period. With the score at 1-0, the Ducks held the Oilers to just three shots in the second period and maintained their one-goal lead.
Just over a minute into the third period, Oilers’ defenseman Nick Schultz scored his first goal of the season as he beat Jonas Hiller to the short-side, who didn’t see the puck until it was in the net. Dvorak was at it again just over six minutes after Schultz tied the game at one, and scored his second of the night off a rebound from a shot by Daniel Winnik.
Outside of Dvorak’s big night, Saku Koivu added two assists while Ben Lovejoy and Winnik finished with a one helper apiece. Jonas Hiller made 27 saves on 28 shots on the way to his 13th win of the season.
The Ducks have now won two straight games and hold an 11-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings for first place in the Pacific Division. The Ducks are also only three points out of first place in the Western Conference behind the Chicago Blackhawks, who have also won two straight.
Anaheim next takes the ice on Wednesday against the struggling Colorado Avalanche, who are currently in the middle of a five-game skid and have fallen to last place in the Western Conference with 29 points.
With just under a month left in the season, the Ducks are closing in on a playoff berth after missing the postseason last year. The Ducks finished in dead last in the Pacific Division in 2011-12, but have completely turned things around and have been one of the toughest teams to beat in 2013.
Will the Anaheim Ducks be the team to beat in the Stanley Cup playoffs or will their regular season success come to an end in May?
[Image via Creative Commons]