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
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.