ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Anaheim Ducks won’t play at home for the next three weeks, which makes the Olympic break a terrible inconvenience for a team that hasn’t lost at Honda Center since the first week in December.
Todd Marchant scored the go-ahead goal with 11:39 left, and the Ducks beat Edmonton 3-2 on Wednesday night to set a franchise record with their 11th straight home victory and extend the Oilers’ club-record road winless streak to 11 games.
“It seemed like we couldn’t win at home in the beginning of the season, but it’s funny how things change,” Marchant said. “We’re not trying to do anything fancy at home. We’re trying to keep the game simple. Being the home team, you get the last change, so you get your matchups the way you want them.”
Bobby Ryan scored twice, and Jonas Hiller made 17 of his 37 saves during the first period in the opener of the four-game season series against the team with the NHL’s worst record.
“In this league there are no easy games, and this was a good example,” Hiller said. “We probably thought it was going to be easy, with our home record and their road record, but we were lucky to come out of the first period with a 1-0 lead. We have the confidence that we can win, even if we play bad, and that’s the difference between right now and the beginning of the year.”
The Ducks are 13-5-0 in their last 18 and just two points behind Calgary for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot – with a showdown against the Flames coming up Saturday night at Calgary. Anaheim played without Ryan Getzlaf, who sprained his left ankle Monday night in a 4-2 win over Los Angeles.
Getzlaf’s spot on Canada’s hockey roster at the Olympics is in doubt because of the injury.
Ryan Potulny and Ethan Moreau scored short-handed goals in the second period for the Oilers, whose penalty-killing unit had produced only one over the first 58 games.
Edmonton is mired in a 3-22-2 freefall and has only 42 points, seven behind Toronto. The Oilers have never finished a season with the NHL’s worst record.
“Their record doesn’t dictate the type of team that they have,” Marchant said. “I mean, I’ve played with a lot of the guys over there and there’s a lot of pride in the players in that room. They’re all professionals, and that’s why they’ve been in the league so long.”
The defeat tied the Oilers’ longest road winless streak – set in 1990-91 when they went 0-7 with four ties. They haven’t won away from home since Dec. 11, when they concluded a 5-1 trip with a 5-3 victory in St. Louis. That also was the last time they scored more than four goals.
“It was like a lot of nights, where we’ve liked a lot of things we’d done,” coach Pat Quinn said. “It sure looks like we’ve made some steps. But back in November and December, we were saying the same things. If we keep getting the chances, maybe we’ll get the confidence to start putting some in.”
Marchant, who spent nine-plus seasons with Edmonton, redirected James Wisniewski’s slap shot from the right point past Jeff Deslauriers’ glove for his first game-winner of the season less than a minute after the Oilers killed an interference penalty against Steve Staios.
Ryan opened the scoring at 13:58 of the first period. The Oilers came up empty during a 5-on-3 power play they had for 1:32 early in the second period, but were able to tie the score while killing off the penalty against Staios.
Moreau’s persistent forechecking behind the net caused Steve Eminger to cough up the puck and it bounced out in front, where Potulny scored his first career short-handed goal.
“I’ve been trying to figure out why we haven’t had more short-handed opportunities this year,” Moreau said. “It’s hard to explain. Sometimes, the puck just bounces in the right direction, and you need awareness from all four guys to create offensive chances when you’re short-handed.”
Moreau put Edmonton ahead 2-1 at 14:33 of the second with his 15th short-handed goal, on a breakaway just nine seconds after Smid was sent off for holding Jason Blake.
“It was tough losing Getz because we had to change both power-play units around,” Hiller said. “They haven’t worked together that much in practice. So what we did tonight on the PP was the exception to the rule.”
The Ducks tied it with 42 seconds still left on Smid’s penalty, however, as Ryan carried the puck into the right circle and beat Deslauriers to the glove side for his team-high 27th goal.
The teams meet again Saturday at Edmonton before heading into the Olympic break. Eight of their first nine games after the break will be in Anaheim.
“Right now every game is like a playoff game,” Hiller said. “So if things go our way and we can win these next two games, we can spend the break in a playoff position. That should be the goal right now.”
NOTES: Quinn and general manager Steve Tambellini rejoined his team a day after attending a funeral in Canton, Mass., for Brendan Burke, the son of Toronto general manager Brian Burke. … The Oilers were held to fewer than three goals for the 20th time in 25 games. They have only two even-strength goals in their last five games.