EDMONTON - The Edmonton Oilers take home-ice advantage to a whole new level when the Anaheim Ducks pay a visit.
Shawn Horcoff had a goal and two assists to lead Edmonton to a 5-1 victory Friday night, improving the Oilers to 11-1-3 in their last 15 home games against the Ducks.
Ales Hemsky, Kyle Brodziak, Andrew Cogliano and Steve Staios also scored for Edmonton, which equalled a season high in goals.
"We haven't had goals like that all year really," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "We had great shots and some really nice goals. Hopefully that is a sign of things to come.
"To win by four, that's the first time in a long time we've been able to catch a break in the third period. It was a nice change."
Staios echoed his coach's hopes that the Oilers have found some new offensive life.
"Hopefully it builds some confidence," he said. "We've been having a tough time offensively. It's nice to see some guys get rewarded. The lack of offence hasn't been a lack of effort. The guys have been working hard and hopefully this is a good confidence boost for them."
Horcoff felt the win could be chalked up to the Oilers' desire to erase the memory of serving up a stinker in a 4-2 loss in Colorado on Wednesday. It also didn't hurt that the Ducks were coming off a game in Calgary a night earlier.
"They were coming off a game the night before and it is always a tough situation playing back-to-back ... it was their third game in four nights, too," said Horcoff, who leads the team in scoring with 24 points. "And we were really frustrated after the way we played in our last loss to Colorado and needed to bounce back from that. That game was embarrassing so we wanted to come out with a good show tonight."
It was the third win in the last four games for the Oilers (11-14-1), who moved out of the cellar and into a tie for fourth place in the Northwest Division with rival Calgary.
Ryan Getzlaf had the lone goal for the Ducks (12-11-4) who missed out on an opportunity to leap into a tie for first place in the Pacific Division with Dallas, finishing 1-2 on a Western Canadian road swing.
"We've got to go out and compete and we didn't do that," said former Oiler and now Ducks captain Chris Pronger, roundly booed all night by the Edmonton crowd.
Anaheim head coach Randy Carlyle was upset that his team lost its composure late in the game, taking a number of unnecessary penalties.
"To me the type of penalties we took in the third are unacceptable because if we want to get involved and engage people physically I'd rather we did it in the first give minutes instead of the last ten minutes of a 5-1 hockey game," he said. "To me that just cheapens us."
The Oilers struck first on a rare power-play goal just over two minutes in. Edmonton, dead last in the league with 11 man advantage goals entering Friday, looked effective with the man advantage to start the game as Hemsky fed a puck to Horcoff at the side of the net. Horcoff deftly threaded it back to Hemsky who beat Jean-Sebastien Giguere for his ninth of the season.
The Ducks tied it up five minutes later on a gift goal as Getzlaf's passing attempt deflected off the skate of Oiler defender Joni Pitkanen and past goalie Dwayne Roloson.
Edmonton did well to survive a stretch in the second half of the middle period as they took four consecutive penalties, including giving Anaheim a two-man advantage for a minute and 23 seconds. Roloson and the Oilers' penalty killers kept the Ducks from scoring.
"That was the turning point in the game," MacTavish said. "Specifically it was a great save that Roli made on Getzlaf. I don't know how he saw it. It must have been his spider senses or something."
The key kills gave the Oilers life late in the period as they went ahead 3-1 on goals scored just 26 seconds apart in the final minute of the second.
The first goal came with 27 seconds remaining as former Duck Dustin Penner's shot bounced off the end boards and back over the net to Horcoff who wired a shot over Giguere's shoulder.
Then, with just 10.2 seconds left, Marty Reasoner was able to send a puck through the legs of Duck defenceman Sean O'Donnell to Brodziak at the side of the net and he shovelled it in to give Edmonton a two-goal lead after 40 minutes.
It took the Oilers just 1:33 into the third to make it a three-goal advantage as Tom Gilbert sprung Cogliano on a breakaway with a perfect pass and the rookie forward made the most of the opportunity, scoring his sixth of the season. Jonas Hiller came in to replace Giguere in the Anaheim net.
It only took the Oilers five minutes to get to Hiller, as Staios skated a puck in from the blue-line and picked the corner with a wrist shot to make it 5-1.
Anaheim only managed one shot in the third.
The two teams will play a rematch on Sunday in Anaheim.
Notes - Oilers F Geoff Sanderson left the game in the first period with a back injury and Hemsky left in the third with a knee contusion. Both will be evaluated on Saturday. ... Oilers D Sheldon Souray and F Fernando Pisani both skated in practice on Friday but neither is ready to play yet. MacTavish said that Souray (shoulder) is likely still about two weeks away while Pisani (colitis) is expected to travel with the team to Anaheim and Los Angeles and may suit up for one of those two games. ... Anaheim F Mark Mowers has cleared waivers and is believed to be exploring his options, which could include playing in Europe or reporting to the Ducks' minor-league team in Portland.