Ducks-Oilers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 04, 2012
Considering the Edmonton Oilers aren't firing many shots on goal, it's not surprising they're struggling to score. Despite these issues, they managed to generate enough offense to beat the Anaheim Ducks over the weekend. In a matchup of last-place teams, the Oilers try to defeat the Ducks for a second time in five days Thursday night in their home finale. Edmonton (32-39-9) will miss the playoffs for a sixth straight year since losing in the 2006 Stanley Cup finals and is locked into finishing 14th in the Western Conference. It is five points back of 13th-place Anaheim (33-35-12), which will miss the postseason for the second time in three years. Much of the Oilers' problems have stemmed from a defense that has yielded 233 goals - third-most in the West - but lately the offense has been the team's biggest weakness. Edmonton has combined for four goals in its last four games, and rarely has the offense tested the other team's goaltender. In the last three contests, the Oilers' shots have totaled 14, 15 and 19, respectively. They had at least 20 shots in each of their previous 23 games. Against Los Angeles on Monday, Edmonton was outshot 37-19 in a 2-0 loss, its third in four games. "You've got to get pucks in deep and force their defense to turn pucks over," said center Sam Gagner, who has no goals and six shots in the last four games. "We didn't really do that, and we've got to learn from it.'' Although its offense isn't putting much pressure on opponents, 15 shots were enough to beat the Ducks on Sunday, as Teemu Hartikainen scored his first two goals of the season in a 2-1 victory. Anaheim fired 33 shots on Devan Dubnyk, but only Teemu Selanne's found the back of the net. It was the 663rd regular-season goal for the 19-year veteran, who is expected to announce whether he will return for another NHL season sometime in July. Despite being 41 years old, Selanne leads Anaheim with 66 points and is third with 28 goals. He has regularly frustrated the Oilers, tallying seven goals and seven assists during a nine-game point streak in the series. Selanne's efforts typically lead to victories over Edmonton, though Sunday's defeat was just the second in the last 12 meetings. Selanne and his teammates arrive at Rexall Place hoping to avoid losing four straight games for the first time since Dec. 16-22 after falling to Vancouver 5-4 in a shootout Tuesday. Ryan Getzlaf, Cory Perry, Rod Pelley and Devante Smith-Pelly scored for the Ducks, who have 78 points and will finish with their fewest since 2004, when they had 76. Perry scored his team-leading 37th goal with the man advantage, giving him 14 power-play goals - tied for third in the league. He scored two goals in each of Anaheim's first two games against Oilers - both wins - but was kept off the score sheet in the weekend loss. Jonas Hiller stopped 13 of 15 shots Sunday, but is still 9-2-0 with a 1.76 goals-against average in his last 13 games in the series. Dubnyk is 6-2-1 with a 1.75 GAA and a shutout in his last nine games overall.
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