Oilers, Ducks brace for another close encounter

The Anaheim Ducks and Edmonton Oilers have had plenty of late-game fireworks in recent meetings.

The Pacific Division rivals should be just as desperate for a win when they meet for the first time this season on Friday afternoon at Honda Center.

Edmonton (10-10-1) will be playing its second game since coach Todd McLellan was fired on Tuesday and immediately replaced by Ken Hitchcock. The Oilers overcame three deficits on the road and beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3 in overtime in Hitchcock’s debut on Tuesday night, their second win in eight games.

“I told them I would coach them hard and they really embraced that,” Hitchcock told reporters after the win. “They have a lot of fun and they’re a loud group and that’s a good thing.”

The Ducks (9-9-5) will be trying to ride the momentum of their previous game as well.

Anaheim defeated the visiting Vancouver Canucks 4-3 on Wednesday night, just its second regulation win in the past 16 games.

The Ducks have earned enough points in that stretch, while taking advantage of the downturns by other Pacific Division teams, to move into third in the division. Over the past dozen years, about 75 percent of teams holding playoff spots at Thanksgiving have gone on to qualify for the postseason.

“We’re taking small steps right now,” said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who has two points in each of the past two games. “We’re getting better and better. We’re going to continue to build and try to get this group pushing the right way every night and every shift.”

Anaheim and Edmonton have appeared evenly matched the past two seasons.

In seven of the past eight regular-season games between Anaheim and Edmonton, the outcome has been decided by one goal, including five that went past regulation.

The Ducks also won a tight seven-game series against the Oilers in the 2017 Western Conference Quarterfinals. That series turned after the Ducks erased a 3-0 deficit in Game 5, scoring three goals in the final 3:16 with their goalie pulled for an extra attacker. The Ducks then won 4-3 in double-overtime to take a 3-2 series lead.

In the third of four meetings between the teams last season, Anaheim forward Rickard Rakell scored two goals in the final 21 seconds of the third period with the goalie pulled, but Edmonton prevailed 6-5 in the shootout.

In their final meeting last season, Adam Henrique scored with 1:29 left in regulation and the Anaheim net empty, tying the game 4-4. The Ducks won in overtime on a goal by defenseman Hampus Lindholm, part of a 10-1-1 finish by the Ducks that allowed them to finish second in the Pacific Division.

Lindholm has missed the past two games with an upper-body injury, and Cam Fowler, the second-most seasoned defenseman for the Ducks, was struck by a puck Nov. 12 against the Nashville Predators and had surgery Friday to repair multiple facial fractures.

Anaheim has had to insert two more rookie defenseman into the lineup since those injuries, Andy Welinski and Josh Mahura, who joined two other rookie defensemen already in the lineup, Marcus Pettersson and Jacob Larsson.