| OILERS vs DUCKS: |
AT THE MORNING SKATE
After leaving Thursday's practice early, forward Sam Gagner did not take part in Friday's morning skate at Rexall Place.
Head Coach Pat Quinn later confirmed that Gagner will miss tonight's game vs. the Ducks due to a nagging hip injury and is uncertain about when he will return to the line-up.
"Between he and our medical staff, they decided maybe a little break away would help look after this thing," Quinn explained.
"It was him that pulled himself off, so you know it's sore because he's the kind of kid that keeps pushing through that sort of stuff and has for a while now. So it was clearly sore enough not to try to continue yesterday (at practice) and today he's not going to play, and we'll just see whether time will make a difference for it."
While Gagner is out, the Oilers will keep their forward numbers intact by welcoming Patrick O'Sullivan back to the line-up. O'Sullivan suffered a gory finger injury March 9 vs. Ottawa and has missed the past seven games.
Although he was cleared to play last weekend, the forward said the extra days of practicing "certainly didn't hurt."
"My finger had more time to heal and the team's doing well. There's no urgency. It's not like we needed to make some changes or do anything like that, so I think those three things combined probably helped me. I was able to get some more practices and that's important," he said.
Despite continued pain in his finger, O'Sullivan is eager to trade the press box for the face-off dot.
"It's not 100% but it's good enough to play and it's one of those things where I play now or I don't play for the rest of the year," he added. "I'm excited for tonight. It's tough watching games."
DESLAURIERS GOES FOR TWO
One player who won't have to watch tonight's game from the sidelines is goalie Jeff Deslauriers, who will get the start vs. Anaheim.
With both Oilers goalies coming off wins, Quinn could have had a tough decision to make today, but because of Deslauriers' strong performance Tuesday night vs Vancouver and rookie Devan Dubnyk's continued recovery from the flu, Deslauriers sealed the starting position.
"It was mostly based on a strong game that he had," Quinn explained. "Of course Dubnyk had a strong game before that, but Dubnyk still hasn't had a lot of food in him, to the point where we said one more day for sure."
Quinn concluded by saying that the team will likely alternate goalies through the remainder of the season.
WHITNEY vs VISNOVSKY
One subplot of tonight's game involves defencemen facing former teammates. After swapping teams at the trade deadline three weeks ago, former Duck Ryan Whitney and former Oiler Lubomir Visnovsky meet eachother for the first time tonight.
Both players are looking forward to game.
"It's always fun playing against guys you've played with," Whitney said. "You can have a couple of little rivalries out there just from having some friends on the other team."
|Lubomir Visnovsky |
"Tonight, for me, it's a special night," Visnovsky added. "I'm back in Edmonton and I will play against my ex-teammates. I've got lots of good friends there and I will be excited tonight. I think it will be good for me."
The blueliners have excelled with their new teams, and Whitney said it's worked out for the best.
"I'm really happy here, so that's good. That's what I'm kind of thinking about. I don't know [Visnovsky] that well, but the guys said he's a really good guy, he's fit in well there, so it seems like right now it's pretty good."
With Visnovsky in the line-up and a playoff spot in the distance, Whitney is expecting the Ducks to play a tough game tonight.
"I think they're pretty desperate right now," he said. "I don't know if they're technically eliminated, but they've got to win probably the rest of their games so they'll be desperate, they'll be playing hard, and it will be fun."
PETRY TURNS PRO
In other news Friday morning, the Oilers announced they have signed defenceman Jeff Petry to a two-year entry-level contract. Petry, 22, has played the past three seasons with Michigan State University and is expected to report to the AHL's Springfield Falcons for his first professional assignment.
DUCKS 3 - OILERS 2
The Oilers and Ducks eased themselves into Friday night's match-up at Rexall Place, but by the second period, they were playing full force. 20 penalties totalling 66 minutes were assessed between the clubs, and the Ducks dominated, with Corey Perry scoring two powerplay goals in less than two minutes late in the third.
Although Marc Pouliot narrowed the gap during six-on-three in the final minute, it wasn't enough to force extra time and the Oilers suffered a 3-2 loss. Gilbert Brule scored Edmonton's first goal, while Jeff Deslauriers was solid with 37 saves for third-star honours.
Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Bob Stauffer