Saturday, March 4, 2017

Bernier makes 37 saves in Ducks win against Maple Leafs

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Anaheim Ducks found their missing offence during the bye week.

Rickard Rakell scored twice, Jonathan Bernier made 37 saves and the Ducks returned from their break with a 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night.

Sami Vatanen and Jakob Silfverberg also scored to help the Ducks get their third straight win at home and maintain a two-point lead over Calgary for third in the Pacific Division. Patrick Eaves added an empty-net goal with 1:14 remaining for his first since being acquired from Dallas.

“Coming off that break, you never know how we’re going to play and if the timing is going to be there,” Bernier said. “But we had a few good practices and got ourselves ready for tonight and played well.”

While most of the league has struggled coming off the mandated five-day rest, Anaheim showed no obvious signs of rust despite falling behind 2-1 in the second period after Nazem Kadri scored on the power play. After that, Anaheim got two goals in 16 seconds, showing some flash 5-on-5 that had been missing in recent weeks.

Rakell followed up Hampus Lindholm’s shot for his seventh career multigoal game after Silfverberg converted his own miss with a superb low-angle backhand to tie it at 2.

“Even before that, we put some good shifts together and we felt like we were coming closer and closer,” Rakell said. “When he got that goal we just started building off that.”

Rakell continued his strong play, with four goals in his last three games and 26 on the season. His first goal midway through the first displayed Rakell’s growing knack for being in the right place at the right time.

Chris Wagner did the hard work setting it up. Wagner was able to power through Alexey Marchenko’s check at the blue line and skate past him to feed Rakell for the one-timer.

“For some, it might just look like he’s lucky, but if everybody could do it, everybody would score a lot of goals,” Silfverberg said. “He’s just having really good timing and coming in with speed to those crucial areas.”

Kadri scored his 26th of the season and 11th on the power play, Zach Hyman added his ninth goal of the campaign and Curtis McElhinney made 31 saves as the Maple Leafs dropped their fifth in a row.

Toronto went winless on its three-game California trip and has won just two of its last 10 away from Air Canada Centre.

“Coming away with one point on this trip is obviously disappointing,” Maple Leafs defenceman Matt Hunwick said. “We have a lot of ground to make up.”

Bernier acknowledged some personal satisfaction in winning his first game against his former team after being traded from Toronto to Anaheim last July.

There was no such opportunity for satisfaction by Toronto’s Frederik Andersen, who spent his first three seasons with the Ducks before being traded to the Maple Leafs last June. He did not play in his return to Anaheim and has sat out the second night of Toronto’s last five sets of back-to-back games.

NOTES: Ducks G John Gibson missed his third consecutive game with a lower-body injury. … Anaheim is 1 for 33 on the power play in its last 11 games. … Toronto’s league-best power play has now scored 25 goals on the road with the man advantage.


Maple Leafs: Host Detroit on Tuesday night.

Ducks: Host Vancouver on Sunday night.

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