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The Anaheim Ducks have started to look like a playoff team over the past two weeks, and a home loss to the Edmonton Oilers was the only sour note in that stretch.
The Ducks can't afford to falter against the Oilers again.
One point out of the Western Conference's eighth playoff spot, Anaheim will look to avenge its only loss in its past seven games Tuesday night in Edmonton, where the Oilers can leapfrog the Ducks with a regulation win.
Anaheim (38-32-6) looked to be fading from the playoff race in the middle of this month after dropping four of five to fall into 12th place, five points out of the West's eighth slot.
But the Ducks, knowing they needed an impressive finish to qualify for a fourth consecutive postseason, have played some of their best hockey all season. They've won six of seven, including a 4-1 victory over visiting Colorado on Sunday that pulled them within a point of eighth-place St. Louis
"We know every two points is incredibly valuable," rookie Bobby Ryan said. "Look around; other teams are winning as well, so it's important for us to control our own fate and put another run together like we did last week."
There are six teams in the West separated by six total points for the final three playoff spots.
Anaheim earned two points against the Avalanche, but on Friday gave two away against the Oilers (36-31-9). The Ducks threw a season-high 54 shots at Edmonton's Dwayne Roloson, but the veteran goaltender was up to the task, stopping 51 to help his team win 5-3 while counterpart Jean-Sebastien Giguere was pulled twice.
"Everybody in the room realized we dropped one on Friday that we felt like we should have had and we lost two valuable points," Ryan said after the win over Colorado. "We had a day off to address it, and we knew coming into this one that we had to get off to a good start and come away with two before we go on the road for a couple of tough games."
Edmonton had dropped three in a row prior to the critical win at Anaheim, but reverted back to its losing ways on Sunday against another playoff hopeful. Minnesota scored two first-period goals and pulled within one point of the Oilers with a 3-2 victory.
"We played poorly and got what we deserved," coach Craig MacTavish said. "Too many guys are too content to be a non-factor rather than be a factor and step up and be assertive in a game that you desperately need. With six games left we are still looking for a team that will take charge of an opportunity."
Roloson, who's started Edmonton's past 32 games, allowed three goals on 21 shots Sunday after stealing a win from the Ducks on Friday.
"It's pretty much my fault isn't it?" said Roloson, who has allowed three goals apiece in his last five starts. "Two bad goals. You don't let those two bad goals in and you win the game. I have to do my job and stop the puck. If I did that tonight than we would have won, case closed."
Roloson may find another game against the Ducks the perfect opportunity to bounce back. He was excellent in his other start against Anaheim at home on Dec. 19 - making 34 saves - but the Oilers lost 3-2 in a shootout.
Jonas Hiller, expected to start Tuesday, stopped 51 shots in that win, and he's been outstanding lately for Anaheim. The second-year netminder is 4-1-0 with a 1.41 goals-against average since March 15.