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Recently, the Anaheim Ducks have looked little like the team that has dominated the league for much of the season. The Edmonton Oilers hope to extend those struggles a little longer.
Anaheim will try to win three in a row over Edmonton for the first time since 1997 when the teams meet at Rexall Place in Wednesday.
The Ducks (30-10-8), who won 10 of 11 games between Nov. 24-Dec. 13, still have hockey's best record despite going just 5-7-2 in their last 14 games including a 6-2 loss to St. Louis on Tuesday.
Teemu Selanne and Corey Perry scored for the Ducks, while Chris Kunitz extended his points streak to five games with an assist. The Ducks gave up four goals in the second period and trailed 5-0 before finally getting on the board in the third.
"This team has too much pride to lose games like this," Selanne said. "It was ugly. When any good team - even the greatest teams - play average hockey and get outworked out there, they have no chance to win. That's what happened tonight. We lost every battle. Every loose puck. We can't afford to do that kind of stuff."
The Ducks hope to break out of their slump soon, because Pacific Division rival San Jose is making a charge. The Sharks have won six of their last seven games to close within six points of Anaheim. On Dec. 30, the Ducks had a 12-point lead.
Anaheim has taken the two first two meetings from the Oilers this season, and hasn't won three in a row from them since March 23-Nov. 28, 1997.
Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger, who led the Oilers to an improbable Stanley Cup finals berth last season, will miss the game while recovering from a broken left foot suffered Dec. 31 in a loss to Minnesota. It would have been Pronger's second game in Edmonton since he demanded a trade from the Oilers in the offseason.
Pronger was booed heavily in his first game back, a 3-2 overtime win for the Ducks on Nov. 28. Anaheim is 2-4-2 since Pronger's injury and is not expected to have the former Hart and Norris Trophy winner back before mid-February.
While the Ducks are trying to hold on to a dwindling division lead, the Oilers (22-20-4) are hoping to build off a 2-1 win over the Wild and make a move in the tightly-packed Northwest Division.
Joffrey Lupul - whom the Oilers acquired from Anaheim in the Pronger trade - and Marc-Andre Bergeron scored power-play goals to lead Edmonton out of last place in the Northwest Division. The Oilers are in fourth place with 48 points, but only five points behind division-leading Vancouver.
In order to make up ground in the standings, however, the Oilers will need to start beating their division rivals. Tuesday's win was the Oilers' first division win since a 3-1 victory over Minnesota on Dec. 14. They went 0-6-1 against Northwest teams in that span.
"It's been a while," said Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson, who had 28 saves in the win against his former team. "We've got things to work on, but we'll take a win."
Before this season, Edmonton had won 11 of its last 12 from Anaheim.
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