Ducks-Oilers Preview

Things appear to be looking up for the Anaheim Ducks.

They’ve won five of six to close in on first place in the

Pacific Division, their All-Star goaltender Jonas Hiller has been

activated from injured reserve and their four-game road trip is set

to conclude in Edmonton.

The surging Ducks, who could have Hiller between the pipes for

the first time in 11 days, look to win a sixth straight road game

Sunday against the lowly Oilers, losers of 11 of 13.

Anaheim (31-21-4) trailed division-leading Dallas by seven

points on Jan. 21, but has lost only once in six games since to

pull within two of first place.

The Ducks trailed 4-3 late in Friday’s game at Calgary, but

Teemu Selanne scored a power-play goal with less than 3 minutes to

go in regulation and Cam Fowler scored at 4:41 of overtime to give

Anaheim a 5-4 victory.

“This was huge for us,” said Fowler, who has four goals and an

assist in his last six games. “Every game is huge and all the

points matter and we’re lucky to come out of here with two.”

Saku Koivu had two goals and an assist, and Brandon McMillan

also scored for the Ducks, who have won five straight away from

Anaheim for the first time since reeling off six in a row March

19-April 4, 2009.

Matching that streak appears likely.

The Ducks have won six straight in Edmonton since a 5-1 loss

Nov. 30, 2007, and the Oilers (16-31-8) have been scuffling at

Rexall Place this season regardless of the opposition. They’re a

league-worst 7-16-4 at home, and 0-5-1 in their last six games

there.

Anaheim has also won seven of eight overall against the Oilers,

with the lone blemish a 4-2 home loss Nov. 21.

Hiller has been instrumental to the Ducks’ success in this

series, going 6-1-0 with a 2.38 goals-against average in his last

seven starts against Edmonton.

He may play Sunday for the first time since giving up three

goals in the opening 11:15 of a 4-3 loss to San Jose on Feb. 2, the

first game after the All-Star break. In the All-Star game, Hiller

was hit in the mask by a shot and suffered from lightheadedness and

fatigue.

Backup Curtis McElhinney has started each game in Hiller’s

place, leading the Ducks to three straight victories.

“Curtis has been real strong with us,” coach Randy Carlyle

said.

Hiller has been strong all season, ranking among the league

leaders in wins (25), shutouts (four) and saves (1,361).

The Oilers lost 5-3 to Ottawa on Saturday in a matchup of the

NHL’s two worst teams.

Edmonton’s Nikolai Khabibulin allowed goals on the first two

shots he faced before settling down and stopping 20 of the next 22,

but suffering his 14th straight loss. Khabibulin has also lost 10

of his last 12 decisions against the Ducks.

“It’s frustrating when you lose,” Edmonton right wing Jordan

Eberle said. “We got to try to remain positive here. The best part

about hockey is we get to play again (Sunday) and redeem

ourselves.”