DUCKS (47-18-7) at OILERS (25-39-9)
TV: PRIME, SNET-W
Last 10: Anaheim 4-4-2; Edmonton 4-5-1
Big story: Not only do the Ducks have three games left against the Oilers, they enter Friday with three games in hand on the San Jose Sharks, whom they're trying to chase down for the Pacific Division title. A victory at Rexall Place will give each team 103 points and put the Ducks back in first place because they'll have games in hand. Edmonton, while out of the picture for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, can have a say in whether Anaheim finishes first.
Ducks: The next win for Anaheim will tie the franchise record for a single season set in 2006-07, when the Ducks won the Stanley Cup. They've finished with 47 wins in two other seasons ('07-08, '10-11), but each of those ended with a first-round postseason ouster.
The Ducks held an optional practice Thursday in which many of their top players elected to rest. That included forward Teemu Selanne, who coach Bruce Boudreau said will play Friday, meaning he's likely to get the night off Saturday when the Ducks visit the Vancouver Canucks.
Forward Andrew Cogliano, who scored the decisive goal in a 3-2 victory against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, understands the importance of this current stretch for Anaheim.
"We have to keep winning. San Jose has done a good job of staying ahead and winning games. It’s our turn now to keep responding and moving forward," Cogliano said.
Oilers: Goaltender Viktor Fasth, acquired from Anaheim at the NHL Trade Deadline, is not quite ready to return from a neck injury but is hopeful of facing his former team in one of the April games. Defenseman Anton Belov, who has played in one game since Jan. 29, is recovered from an abdominal injury and ready to go.
There was concern about forward Sam Gagner, who missed practice the past two days as he battles a sore ankle. Gagner said he was "just taking care of some things" and anticipated being in the lineup. His coach backed that assessment.
"Remember he hurt his ankle there, that twisted ankle has been flaring up on him," coach Dallas Eakins said. "He's been sucking it up and playing, so we're just trying to give him as much time away from the games to heal. I'm sure he'll just suck it up again [Friday] and play."
Edmonton has been outscored 16-4 in losing its past three games after a 5-2-2 start to March. Two dates remain on the Oilers' six-game homestand.
Injury report: Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler (knee) could be out until the start of the playoffs. … Fasth (neck) is day-to-day for Edmonton. Forwards Nail Yakupov (ankle) and Jesse Joensuu (ankle) are out.
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