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Ducks continue fight for Pacific lead vs. Oilers

by Brian Hunter

DUCKS (31-21-4) at OILERS (16-31-8)


Last 10:
Anaheim 7-3-0; Edmonton 2-7-1

Season series: Fourth and final meeting of the season between these teams. Edmonton claimed a 4-2 win in Anaheim on Nov. 21 behind 38 saves from Devan Dubnyk, but the Ducks have captured the next two, Cam Fowler scoring in the 10th round of a shootout for a 3-2 victory on Dec. 7 and Teemu Selanne lighting the lamp twice in another 3-2 triumph on Jan. 16.

Big story: A healthy Jonas Hiller figures to be key down the stretch as Anaheim fights for the Pacific Division title and home-ice advantage for at least the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. After going on injured reserve briefly due to fatigue and lightheadedness, Hiller was activated Friday and could be in line for his first start in 11 days.

Team Scope:

Ducks: Backup goalie Curtis McElhinney has been doing yeoman's work in the time Hiller was out, winning all three of his starts including a shutout of Colorado. McElhinney wasn't flawless Friday in facing his former team, Calgary, but he held the Ducks in it and they edged the Flames 5-4 as Fowler scored late in overtime. Selanne tied the score on a power play with 2:07 left in regulation and set up Fowler's winner as part of a four-point effort.

"Curtis has been real strong with us," coach Randy Carlyle said. "He's had more of an opportunity with us than he had with the Flames because of the situation he's in."

Oilers: A regulation win over Ottawa in the opener of a Hockey Day in Canada tripleheader Saturday afternoon would have lifted Edmonton out of 30th in the overall NHL standings, but it wasn't to be, as the Oilers fell 5-3 despite a pair of goals from Dustin Penner. They're currently 0-2 on a six-game homestand and are 0-5-1 at Rexall Place since beating the New York Islanders on Jan. 6.

"When they scored their second goal (on their second shot of the game) it took a lot out of energy out of us," associate coach Ralph Krueger said. "It seemed whatever happened after that, the rest of the way we seemed to have the hill ahead of us. The penalties were symbolic of that undisciplined feeling.

"To play seven times shorthanded for the second game in a row, we can't win hockey games doing that kind of thing."

Who's hot: Selanne has 1 goal and 6 assists during a three-game points streak for the Ducks. Saku Koivu has 2 goals and 6 assists over his last six games. Fowler has 4 goals in his last six games. Brandon McMillan has goals in two straight. ... Penner has 4 goals in as many games for the Oilers. Jordan Eberle has 2 goals and 2 assists during a three-game points streak.

Injury report: Edmonton defenseman Ryan Whitney is on injured reserve following right ankle surgery that could sideline him for the remainder of the season. Forward Gilbert Brule (abdomen/ankle) is also on injured reserve.

Stat pack: Selanne moved past Maurice "Rocket" Richard and into 53rd place on the all-time assists list with 690 in his career. ... Oilers defenseman Kurtis Foster picked up an assist and was plus-2 in 17:16 of ice time Saturday.

Puck drop: After losing Scott Niedermayer to retirement following last season, Anaheim lucked out when Fowler was still available to take with the 12th pick in last June's Entry Draft. He has 7 goals and 29 points in 50 games as a rookie.

"Cam Fowler is an amazing hockey player," Selanne said. "It's unbelievable that young guys like that can come into the League and dominate in pretty much every area. If this guy doesn't win the Norris Trophy one day, it's going to be a crime."

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