Oilers-Ducks Preview

The Edmonton Oilers are almost done with one of the worst

seasons in franchise history, but they have a chance to end that

woeful campaign on a positive note.

In their final game of 2009-10 on Sunday night, the Oilers will

try to earn their fourth straight win and deny the Anaheim Ducks’

their first season series sweep.

The Oilers (27-46-8) will finish with no more than 64 points,

which would match their second-fewest when playing at least 82

games. They had 64 in 84 contests in 1993-94, 60 the previous

season and 38 during a lockout-shortened 1994-95 season.

Edmonton ended that campaign with three straight defeats but

hasn’t gone quietly into the end of this season. The Oilers have an

opportunity for their longest win streak since a season-high five

straight victories Dec. 3-11.

They earned their latest win 4-3 in a shootout at Los Angeles on

Saturday but not before blowing a three-goal lead.

Tom Gilbert’s short-handed goal early in the third period seemed

to give the Oilers an ample cushion, but the Kings did all of their

scoring in less than 11 minutes on Devan Dubnyk, who made a

career-high 52 saves despite his third-period struggles.

Dubnyk also stopped the final two Los Angeles skaters in the

shootout, and Ryan Potulny and Shawn Horcoff scored on the team’s

only two attempts.

“It’s never an easy last game of the season, especially when

we’re not in the playoffs, but there are jobs up for grabs, and no

one wants to end on a sour note,” Dubnyk said.

The win was only the Oilers’ second on the road since Dec. 11,

but both victories in that 2-19-2 stretch have come over Los

Angeles. Edmonton fell 3-2 in Anaheim on Feb. 10 as Todd Marchant

scored the go-ahead goal in the third period.

The Ducks (38-32-11) beat Edmonton again 7-3 at Rexall Place on

Feb. 14 and took a 3-2 victory there March 26 to start a three-game

win streak.

Anaheim is 1-1-3 since that run after allowing four third-period

goals in a 6-3 loss at St. Louis on Friday night. The Ducks gave up

two of those on power plays, were outshot 18-5 in the third period

and 48-26 overall.

“We got in a little bit of penalty trouble at the end,” goalie

Curtis McElhinney said. “They got some momentum going and

capitalized on it.”

The Ducks carry a three-game losing streak into Sunday’s game at

the Honda Center, where they’re 5-0-2 since March 13.

Another win over the Oilers, however, won’t prevent the Ducks

from posting their fewest points since the NHL strike that canceled

the 2004-05 season. Anaheim had 76 in 2003-04, its final season

under current Detroit coach Mike Babcock.