Ducks 5 Oilers 3
EDMONTON — The Ducks are officially back in the hunt.
Captain Scott Niedermayer sparked his team with a goal and two assists as the Anaheim Ducks moved into a playoff position with a much-needed 5-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.
Rob Niedermayer had a pair of goals and Sheldon Brookbank and Chris Pronger also scored for the Ducks (39-32-6), who have won seven of their last eight to jump into a tie for seventh in the tight Western Conference playoff race. The Ducks and Nashville Predators both have 84 points.
“We’re in a group of five teams that are competing and battling for two positions and we’re just giving ourselves a chance to live another day and that’s all you can do,” said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle.
Scott Niedermayer said the secret is to try and keep the playoff race from overwhelming them.
“We were not in the playoff picture for a while,” he said. “We’re just kind of focusing on playing well right now. We’re just putting everything else aside, forgetting about the standings and things like that. Forget about who’s doing what and just plugging away, and that’s what we have to keep doing.”
Andrew Cogliano, Denis Grebeshkov and Zack Stortini replied for the Oilers (36-32-9), who slipped farther out of contention in the West. With losses in five of their last six games, Edmonton fell three points back of eighth and into a tie for 10th with Minnesota at 81 points.
All the Oilers can do at this point is take the positives and hope for the best.
“A lot of our guys played really well,” said Oilers captain Ethan Moreau. “At this point in the season if there is anything you can grasp onto you do it. There were some positives, we got some help out of town and there are still 10 points available. I’d like to believe if we continue to play the style of hockey we did tonight that we will have some success in the last five games.”
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish is only worried about the next one.
“There is still potential,” he said. “What we need right now is to simply focus on winning a game. When that happens things can turn around in a hurry.”
“It’s not out of reach,” added forward Shawn Horcoff. “Two teams above us lose twice and we win twice and we’re back in it with three to play. There is still belief in here.” The Oilers tried a desperate gambit in the final two minutes by calling for a stick measurement on Selanne but received a penalty themselves when it was deemed legal, leading to a power play empty-netter by Rob Niedermayer, his second of the game.
“We had what we thought was some reliable information,” said MacTavish. “On a visual it didn’t even look close to me. I was so sure that I made the call and it was obviously a terrible mistake. You have to be sure and I thought I had enough information so it’s a terrible feeling. It sabotaged what was looking like was going to be a heck of a comeback.”