Pronger had three assists Wednesday night in Anaheim’s 6-2 victory over the Oilers. It was the first meeting between the teams since the Western Conference finals, when Edmonton eliminated the Ducks in five games. The Oilers have lost only two of their last 13 regular-season meetings.
“Whenever you’re playing against former teammates, it’s always a big game,” Pronger said. “This team was 1-8 against them last year and 0-4 in the regular season, so we wanted to get off to a good start this year against them. The way they play is very similar to the way we play because of the skill and speed up front. We both play an up-tempo game where you want to pressure and get in on the forecheck.”
The deal was consummated because Pronger’s wife Lauren didn’t want to stay in Edmonton. In return, the Oilers received right wing Joffrey Lupul, defenceman Ladislav Smid and three draft picks in exchange for the four-time all-star and 1999-00 MVP.
“We had a sense that something was going on with Chris, so I really can’t say I was surprised or shocked. But we got a couple of good players in return and you move on,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. “Chris was a terrific teammate and a terrific player, one of the best players in the league.”
Ryan Getzlaf and Travis Moen each scored twice for Anaheim. Rookie Ryan Shannon also scored and Scott Niedermayer had a goal and an assist for the Ducks, who had more than four goals for the first time this season. They are off to the best start in franchise history at 7-0-2, with both losses have come in shootouts. The only other team that hasn’t lost in regulation is Buffalo (9-0).
Jarret Stoll scored both goals for Edmonton.
Oilers goaltender Dwayne Roloson stopped rookie Dustin Penner on a breakaway with about 5 1-2 minutes left in the first period, after the Ducks’ right wing intercepted an attempted cross-ice pass by Petr Sykora near the Edmonton blue line with the score tied 1-all. But Niedermayer and Getzlaf scored less than 2 1-2 minutes apart to give Anaheim a 3-1 lead at the 4-minute mark of the second.
Niedermayer got the go-ahead goal from close range just 4 seconds after Edmonton killed off a holding penalty against Matt Greene. Getzlaf then beat Roloson with a 15-foot wrist shot from the slot after Teemu Selanne’s centring pass caromed off the stick of Edmonton’s Daniel Tjarnquist and right to Getzlaf.
“We had quite a few breakdowns in front of Rollie. We turned the puck over a lot and self-destructed a bit,” MacTavish said. “You want to play a good structured organized game, but we got away from that.”
Anaheim’s Chris Kunitz was serving an interference penalty when Stoll narrowed the gap to 3-2 with a one-timer from the left circle that beat Jean-Sebastien Giguere to the stick side at 7:07 of the second. But Shannon restored Anaheim’s two-goal margin 8 minutes later, and the Ducks opened up a 6-2 lead with third-period goals by Getzlaf and Moen.
“It seemed like almost everything that could go wrong went wrong,” Roloson said. “It was just one of those nights.”
Stoll opened the scoring at 7:28 of the first when he beat Giguere with a short backhander to the stick side after getting a centring pass form Raffi Torres.
But Edmonton’s lead lasted just 57 seconds. Roloson dropped to his knees to stop Pronger’s slap shot from the right point, but couldn’t control the rebound and Moen lifted it over the sprawling goalie.
“Chris is a big and strong defenceman who’s good with the puck, and he seems to find the net all the time with his shot,” Moen said. “He always gets it through, it seems like, and it leads into scoring chances.”
Notes: Pronger’s first game against the Oilers in Edmonton will be Nov. 28. … Oilers RW Fernando Pisani, who was rewarded with a four-year, $10 million contract after scoring 14 goals in 24 playoff games last spring, has yet to record a goal or an assist in nine games this season. This was his 200th NHL game. … Oilers backup goalie Jussi Markkanen, who is 5-0 with two shutouts and a 1.79 GAA in six career games against Anaheim, has started only once this season – beating Vancouver 2-1 with 21 saves. … Giguere has allowed just seven goals over his last five starts.