NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — John Gibson made 26 saves and the Anaheim Ducks took another step to securing the NHL’s best regular-season record with a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday night.
Ryan Kesler and Francois Beauchemin scored for the Ducks, who won their third straight and opened a three-point lead over Nashville and Montreal in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy. Anaheim has four games left in the regular season, one less than Predators and two fewer than the Canadiens.
Dainius Zubrus spoiled Gibson’s shutout bid with a goal in close with 3:25 left.
The loss was the fifth straight for the Devils, tying their season high. They were eliminated from playoff contention for the third straight year earlier in the day when Boston beat Carolina in overtime.
Kesler got the Ducks on the board with 2:53 left in the opening period. Defenseman James Wisniewski made the play at the blue line, jumping to knock down a clearing attempt by Jordin Tootoo and taking a quick shot. Standing about 20 feet in front of Schneider, Kesler deflected the shot and it went high into the net and easily beat Cory Schneider, who had 23 saves.
Beauchemin got the winner early in the third period on a shot from the left point. It hit off the shoulder and seemingly the face of Devils defenseman Jon Merrill and found its way into the net.
Kesler, who was standing in the crease with Merrill, was originally credited with the goal and it was later changed. The play was also reviewed and the goal was allowed to stand.
Zubrus got his fourth of the season in the waning seconds, deflecting a shot by Andy Greene past Gibson.
The Devils got a great chance to tie the game late when Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm was called for delay of game with about a minute to play. Scott Gomez hit the goalpost from the left circle and Gibson stopped Patrik Elias in close to preserve the win.
The Devils had at least six good scoring chances in the opening 40 minutes, but Gibson was outstanding in stopping all 22 shots. The 21-year-old had excellent stops in close on Adam Henrique and Steve Bernier in the opening period, and early in the second period he moved to his left and stopped Henrique’s shot at an open net with the help of Patrick Maroon.
Gibson also stopped an in-close rebound attempt by Stephen Gionta seven minutes into the period and he later came up with two stops on Mike Cammalleri and another on Stefan Matteau in close.
NOTES: Wisniewski has assists in three straight games, and in five of seven. … Ducks LW Matt Beleskey (22 goals in 63 games) was scratched with a lower-body injury. … Devils D Peter Harrold was back in the lineup after sitting out three straight. Mark Fraser got the night off. … Gomez played in his 600th game with the Devils. … The Ducks went 3-2 on their five-game road trip and play their next three at home.
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