Back in Cozy Comforts of Home, Ducks Will Mop Up Oilers

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, February 8, 2018 4:45 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 4:45 PM UTC

If late-night NHL betting is your thing, then your only option on Friday is desperate Edmonton visiting Pacific Division rival Anaheim with a 10 p.m. puck drop.

Edmonton Oilers at Anaheim DucksFree NHL Pick: DucksBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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There are eight games on Friday’s NHL schedule, and the lone matchup to start after 8:30 p.m. ET is Oilers at Ducks with a 10 p.m. ET start time. No national TV, so check it out on NHL Center Ice.

Seems impossible that we are nine days into February and these Pacific Division rivals have played just once this season. That was on Jan. 4 in Edmonton, a 2-1 Oilers win in a shootout. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored the shootout winner past John Gibson; Nugent-Hopkins is currently out with cracked ribs and perhaps not back until March. Gibson made 33 saves as did counterpart Cam Talbot. The Oilers were 0-for-5 on the power play and the Ducks 1-for-2, with Ryan Kesler scoring the PP goal to tie it 1-1 early in the third period.

Thursday will be Edmonton’s first visit to the Honda Center since losing Game 7 of last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals, 2-1. Anaheim’s Nick Ritchie scored the winner at 3:21 of the third. Gibson and Talbot were in net for that one as well.

In regular-season games, the Oilers have dropped 11 of their past 15 trips to Anaheim.

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Both Teams Chasing Playoff Spot

It’s officially panic time for the Oilers, who were preseason favorites to win the Western Conference. They sit on just 50 points and are well out of the West’s second wild-card spot with four other teams ahead of them (Colorado, Calgary, Anaheim and Chicago) just for that. It’s not looking good. A 12-13-2 home record has really hurt Edmonton’s chances.

The Oilers have played a bit better of late in winning five of eight, but they need to go on a long winning streak to vault themselves into playoff contention. Reigning Hart Trophy winner Connor McDavid had four goals in Monday’s very impressive 6-2 home win over Tampa Bay, the third hat trick of his young career and second this season. He became the first Oilers player will multiple hat tricks in a season since Ryan Smyth in 2000-01 and it was only the third four-goal game in franchise history in the past 25 seasons. I’m sure Wayne Gretzky did it about 10 times prior to that.

McDavid scored again Wednesday, but the Oilers lost 5-2 at Los Angeles to start the three-game California Swing. It was tied 2-2 late in the third before the Oilers allowed the tiebreaker at 14:33 and two empty-net goals. Edmonton blueliner Adam Larsson missed his fourth straight game following the death of his father. It’s not clear if he will join the team by Friday.

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A lost lead late, but a huge win in overtime to down the Sabres 4-3 and finish off the road trip on a great note. Here are all the highlights from last night.

— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) February 7, 2018

Anaheim also is chasing that second wild-card spot but obviously in much better shape than Edmonton with 62 points. The Ducks concluded a five-game road trip at 2-3 with a 4-3 overtime loss in Buffalo on Tuesday in the second of a back-to-back. Those three points could be crucial as the Sabres are terrible, but you could understand the tired Ducks losing that game. Buffalo scored the tying goal with just 15 seconds left in regulation, but Adam Henrique won it 1:36 into OT. It was Henrique's 12th goal and fifth game-winner (No. 1 on team for season) since being acquired in a trade with New Jersey on Nov. 30. Ryan Miller had 30 saves.

It’s possible that Ducks No. 1 goalie John Gibson could be activated off injured reserve and start here. He's been sidelined since Jan. 30 with a lower-body injury but has been skating and is eligible to be activated Friday.

Whether it’s Miller or Gibson, I lean the Ducks as Friday's NHL pick as they have won six of their past seven at home. Edmonton is 2-5 in its past seven on the road and rarely wins in Anaheim.

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