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Oilers go for 4 in a row vs. reeling Ducks

by Matthew Mankiewich

DUCKS (34-31-8) at OILERS (24-42-7)

Last 10 -- Anaheim 4-5-1, Edmonton 5-4-1

Season series -- They've met twice so far, both in the week before the Olympic break, and both games were Duck wins. The second matchup came on the final day of action before teams split up for two weeks and all eyes in Canada were on Ryan Getzlaf, who had sustained a high ankle sprain the week before. Getzlaf's two power-play goals and two assists removed any doubts he'd be ready to join Team Canada as the Ducks rolled 7-3.

Big story -- That ankle sprain came back into play in Vancouver on Wednesday as Getzlaf aggravated it when Henrik Sedin fell on his leg in the second period of a 4-1 loss atGM Place . Though he skated two more shifts afterward, Getzlaf is unavailable for Friday night. The Ducks are mathematically still in it, but they're 11 points behind the eighth-seeded Red Wings with nine games remaining and a big chunk of their firepower out of action.

Team scope

Ducks -- How badly will they miss Getzlaf? Any time you take 69 points out of the lineup, there's a gaping hole left behind. Not that they were exactly on a tear with him. They've pulled an oh-fer on their Western Canada swing with a loss in Calgary to match the one in Vancouver, and now they face an Oilers team that has embraced the role of spoiler in the season's final weeks.

"We put ourselves in a tough spot by the way we played early in the season and our room for error is minimal," Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer said, looking back at a 10-13-6 start that the team has spent the season trying struggled to overcome. "So it's frustrating when you don't get points when you need them."

Oilers -- Wherever they are in the standings, the Oilers had better luck against the Canucks than the Ducks did. They jumped out to a two-goal lead and Jeff Deslauriers made it hold up for his third win in a row, a 3-2 victory. It was the Oilers' fifth win in six games atRexall Place this month and third straight overall. They can make it a perfect four-game homestand with a win over the Ducks.

"He was really sharp ... and confident and in mental control," Edmonton coach Pat Quinn said of Deslauriers, who gave up all seven goals against Anaheim on Valentine's Day. "Our guys battled hard all night long and I like how they played around him."

Who's hot -- Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney led the team in ice time against Vancouver and was a plus-2, making him plus-6 in the last three games. He'll be facing his former teammates for the first time since being traded from the Ducks along with a draft pick for defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky. With the win over the Canucks Tuesday night, Deslauriers has beaten both Roberto Luongo and Martin Brodeur in a two-week period.

Injury report -- The Oilers returned to practice Thursday after a day off, and forward Patrick O'Sullivan (finger) was medically cleared to play Friday. Goalie Devan Dubnyk (flu) is still not 100 percent and is taking it day by day. Forward Sam Gagner left practice early. No confirmed report yet but Quinn did comment that he has been battling a hip injury.

Stat pack -- Bobby Ryan has three goals and an assist against the Oilers in two games. Niedermayer also has four points, a goal and three assists. Ethan Moreau and Shawn Horcoff have three points each against the Ducks this year.

Puck drop -- Misery loves company, and the Oilers, the only team mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in the NHL, would be more than happy to bring some teams along with them.

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