Oilers close against Ducks, shoot for fourth straight
Sunday, 04.11.2010 / 2:00 PM
NHL.comOILERS (27-46-8) at DUCKS (38-32-11)
Edmonton 5-4-1; Anaheim 4-3-3
Fourth and final meeting. The Ducks will be going for the season sweep. They own 3-2 victories at both the Honda Center and Rexall Place and also a 7-3 road win over the Oilers in the final game before the Olympic break. Ryan Getzlaf
returned that night from an ankle sprain to record a pair of power-play goals and four total points.
Each team is aiming for one final victory to take into the offseason. Edmonton has won three in a row and no longer has to worry about finishing with the fewest points in franchise history. Anaheim is dealing with the disappointment of missing the playoffs one season after getting in as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and upsetting San Jose in the first round before getting ousted in a seven-game series by Detroit.
The road hasn't been a kind place for Edmonton this season, but after blowing a three-goal, third-period lead in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon, the Oilers responded with a 4-3 shootout victory. Ryan Potulny and Shawn Horcoff connected in the penalty-shot tiebreaker after Mike Comrie scored twice in regulation and Tom Gilbert added a shorthanded tally. Devan Dubnyk stood on his head, making 52 saves and denying two of three shootout attempts.
"The guys were really battling out there for me today, and that's how I was able to take away some of those 50-50 pucks," Dubnyk said. "It's never an easy last game of the season, especially when we're not in the playoffs, but there are jobs up for grabs, and no one wants to end on a sour note."
The expectation is that veterans like Teemu Selanne
, Scott Niedermayer and Saku Koivu
, who didn't accompany Anaheim on its road trip to Dallas and St. Louis, will return to the lineup for the season finale. The Ducks have lost three straight, burned in the last two games by a pair of wily veterans. Mike Modano, who may retire at season's end, had the tying goal and the shootout winner in a 3-2 Stars win on Thursday and Keith Tkachuk had a pair of assists in his final NHL game as the Blues rallied for a 6-3 win on Friday.
"It's a pretty neat experience for me, being able to play in those games after watching those guys my whole life," said rookie Matt Beleskey
, who scored twice in St. Louis.
Comrie has three goals in his last two games for the Oilers. Gilbert has a goal and eight assists during a four-game points streak. Dustin Penner had five goals and three assists during a four-game points streak that ended Saturday.
has four goals and four assists during a five-game points streak for the Ducks. Selanne had six goals and nine assists in his last 10 games and Koivu had four goals and five assists in his last four games before each sat out the recent road trip.
Edmonton forward Robert Nilsson missed Saturday's game due to dizziness. Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (back), defensemen Sheldon Souray (hand), Ladislav Smid (neck) and Theo Peckham (shoulder) and forwards Ales Hemsky (shoulder), Ryan Stone (knee), Jean-Francois Jacques (back), Sam Gagner (hip) and Gilbert Brule (ankle) were all lost for the season.
Getzlaf has missed the last eight games for Anaheim with an ankle injury. Also sidelined are forward Joffrey Lupul
(back) and defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky
The Oilers have won just two of their last 23 road games -- both shootout victories over the Kings. … Corey Perry
leads the Ducks with a career-high 75 points. Getzlaf has 69 in the 66 games he has played.
Dubnyk and fellow rookie Jeff Deslauriers have routinely faced 40 shots or more in the Edmonton net but have also turned in some brilliant performances down the stretch to help end a difficult season on a promising note.