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Pacific Division Weekly: Ducks surf top of division ahead of Christmas break

The Ducks are on the nice list, but the Flames have a list of their own.

Vince Dunn #29 of the Seattle Kraken defends against Troy Terry #19 of the Anaheim Ducks during the third period of a game at Honda Center on December 15, 2021 in Anaheim, California. Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Anaheim Ducks take control of the Pacific, the Calgary Flames get sidetracked by positive COVID cases, and the Vancouver Canucks go streaking.

Here’s everything else going on in the Pacific Division this week:

Anaheim Ducks (17-9-5)

The Ducks leapfrogged the idle Flames to take the top of the Pacific Division with an overtime win against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. Forward Troy Terry, who is scoring at nearly a point-per-game pace, continued his tear adding two more goals on the contest — both the game-tying goal and the game-winning goal. The game-winner came in overtime, which Terry buried on a penalty shot, punking fifth-string Blues goaltender Jon Gillies for a 3-2 victory.

Terry leads the team with 29 points (18 goals, 11 assists).

Anaheim also took care of the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday night with a 4-1 win, featuring Terry on the scoresheet again. The other goal-scorers were Sam Carrick and rookie Trevor Zegras. Zegras sits at second place among all rookies in points and is the same culprit responsible for the ‘fake Michigan’ play that made headlines last week.

The Ducks currently have five players on Injured Reserve, including Adam Henrique, Maxime Comtois, Max Jones and Josh Mahura.

Calgary Flames (15-7-6)

The Pacific Division wasn’t immune to the current surge in player COVID cases, as the league initially postponed Flames games through Dec. 16. The team was scheduled to play next on Saturday, Dec. 18, hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets, though a decision was announced on Wednesday to push that game back, as well.

As of Tuesday, nine players and one staffer for the Flames entered COVID Protocol. Wednesday’s round of testing added seven more players, six more staffers and the coaching staff to the list of confirmed cases. The list of those in protocol include: forwards Byron Froese, Johnny Gaudreau, Trevor Lewis and Tyler Pitlick; defensemen Rasmus Andersson and Erik Gudbranson; goaltender Jacob Markstrom and coaches Darryl Sutter, Ryan Huska and Kirk Mueller.

This adds to Tuesday’s previous list of confirmed cases: forwards Sean Monahan, Milan Lucic, Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, Brad Richardson and Adam Ruzicka, as well as defensemen Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov.

The Flames have a total of 16 players currently in protocol. The next game remaining on the schedule will be on Dec. 21 against the Ducks.

In World Juniors news, Flames prospect Matthew Coronato was named to Team USA. The 19-year-old currently plays for Harvard in NCAA DI.

COVID aside, missing personnel include defenseman Johannes Kinnvall who is week-to-week, and forward Brett Ritchie who remains on injured reserve.

The Flames still sit at second place in the Pacific with 36 points after 28 games.

Edmonton Oilers (16-11-0)

The Oilers fell at home to the red-hot Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday with a final score of 5-1. The Oilers could not seem to solve Leaf’s goaltender Jack Campbell, nor could they benefit from shaking up their lines with Warren Foegele moving up on the first shift alongside Connor McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi.

Colton Sceviour finally got the Oilers on the board in the third frame to make it 3-1 before the Leafs responded with two goals of their own to finish the scoring for the game. It was Sceviour’s first as an Oiler.

The Oilers trailed for the entire tilt, as they had for the most part during their current six-game home stand. At one point on Tuesday, down 1-0 in the second frame, the Oilers pushed for a goal to tie the game. They amassed 11 shots on goal before the Leafs netted a second on their first shot of the period, making the game 2-0.

Some alarming trends: McDavid has not scored a goal since Dec. 3 against the Kraken. The Oilers, as a team, have scored 6 goals in their last five games and have particularly struggled to get production down the line-up.

On IR is Kris Russell, Slater Koekkoek, and goaltender Mike Smith. Ryan McLeod is in COVID Protocol and Zach Hyman is out day-to-day with a shoulder injury.

Los Angeles Kings (12-10-5)

The Kings battled hard but could not overcome a skilled Tampa Bay Lightning club on Tuesday night. The Kings gave up the lead in the second before falling 3-2 in overtime.

The Kings dominated the first period, outshooting the Lightning 12-5, but were themselves outshot in the second frame 14-6. The pair of teams traded goals in the first two periods — Drew Doughty scored a power play goal in the first, and forward Viktor Arvidsson scored just 30 seconds into the second.

The third period could not produce any goals, but showcased some high-octane action and a rally of traded chances. Lightning forward Mathieu Joseph put the game away in the extra frame, bullying the puck past Kings goaltender Johnathan Quick on a 2 on 1.

Quick finished the game with 27 saves. Doughty and Arvidsson tallied their third and sixth on the season, respectively.

Do people hate Brendan Lemieux? The 25-year-old forward made headlines last month when he was suspended for biting Ottawa Senators captain Brady Tkachuk during a game. Then, on Dec. 11 at Staples Center, his return from suspension was met with more drama:

It’s hard to know what No. 48 said or did to garner the attention from the Minnesota Wild bench after scoring the game winning goal, but recent events suggest he’s probably on the wrong side of Santa’s list.

Both Alexander Edler and Michael Anderson are out this week. Edler suffered a lower-body injury on Tuesday, while Anderson is out with illness. Andreas Athanasiou also suffered a lower-body injury on Dec. 14 against the Lightning. Between COVID Protocol and earlier injuries this season, Athanasiou has played in just 11 of 27 games for the Kings.

Seattle Kraken (10-16-3)

The Kraken came into the week riding the coattails of a frenzied game on Dec. 11 against the Blue Jackets that ultimately saw them lose 5-4 in overtime.

First, though, the team out-battled the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night, taking the game 3-1 in the first ever meeting between the two at SAP Center. The first period provided non-stop action and just two stoppages after 15 minutes of play.

All of the games goals came in the third period, featuring goals from Kraken forwards Ryan Donato (6), Brandon Tanev (9) and Calle Järnkrok (2). Forward Logan Couture scored for the Sharks in the third, as well.

On Wednesday, the Kraken were met with the larger task of winning back-to-back games, this time against the first place Ducks. They did not fare as well, scoring just once in a 4-1 loss. Donato scored again for the Kraken, but the defense was no match for the firepower of Anaheim’s young stars, Terry and Zegras.

Donato’s goal on Wednesday marked his seventh of the season.

The Kraken do not currently have any injuries, but Yanni Gourde, Colin Blackwell and Riley Sheahan are all in COVID Protocol.

Vancouver Canucks (13-15-2)

The Canucks enter tonight’s contest against the Sharks on a five-game win streak, but with some concerns, as the threat of recent COVID cases loom over them. Defensemen Luke Schenn and Brad Hunt, and forward Juho Lammikko were put into Protocol before the Canucks played on Tuesday — a game that they won 4-3 against the Blue Jackets. Tucker Poolman was pulled from the game later that night, entering Protocol.

Wednesday yielded no new positive tests, so the team traveled that night to San Jose, minus the aforementioned players, as well as assistant coach Jason King, who also recently tested positive.

But it’s not all doom and gloom for the Canucks. Under both newly appointed president Jim Rutherford and head coach Bruce Boudreau, the Canucks have been perfect in their last five games. Their week started with a gutsy 2-1 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes, before the Canucks’ Tuesday night win.

On Sunday, they methodically held off the Canes in a game that featured 19 icings (the average per game is around eight). Defenseman Tucker Poolman noticeably made back-to-back defensive plays in the final minute, a clear and then a blocked shot, with the Hurricanes’ extra man on the ice.

Tuesday night against the Blue Jackets was a comeback win, with the Canucks going down 3-0 after the first period. They responded with goals from Bo Horvat in the second period, then Elias Pettersson, Vasily Podzolkin and Horvat again in the third.

Travis Hamonic is out for three weeks with a lower-body injury.

The Canucks sit at seventh place in the Pacific, but have pulled within four points of a wild card spot with their streak going into tonight.

Vegas Golden Knights (17-11-0)

While the Golden Knights struggled at the onset of the season, they have crawled back into form as of late, with wins against the Wild on Sunday and on the road against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday.

Sunday night was a barn burner at T-Mobile Arena. After trading goals twice in the first period, the Wild took the lead just nine seconds into the second. The Knights fought back for the lead in the middle frame with goals from Zach Whitecloud — his second of the night, — and Max Pacioretty.

Marcus Foligno of the Wild tied it again just minutes into the third. Then Mark Stone capitalized on a power play to make it 5-4. Finally, on a night where ‘managing emotions’ was a key to the game, Alex Pietrangelo sealed the deal with an empty net goal.

The game-winner:

Not to be overlooked, forward Chandler Stephenson had 4 assists on the night. The Knights were 2-for-3 on the power play.

Tuesday night was more of the same from Vegas, but Boston proved to be less competitive in the 4-1 victory for the Golden Knights. Pacioretty put up two goals on the night, and Stephenson added 3 assists, suggesting a link between the Golden Knights’ recent success and the heightened play of their big guns.

Nicolas Roy suffered an undisclosed injury on Tuesday. Alec Martinez and Nolan Patrick remain day-to-day with injuries sustained in October and November, respectively.