ANAHEIM, Calif. – Backup goalie Curtis McElhinney and the Anaheim Ducks demonstrated their resiliency by bouncing back strongly again from a lopsided loss.
Teemu Selanne scored twice and the Ducks overcame two Edmonton power plays in the final 3:12 to beat the Oilers 3-2 Sunday night.
Defenceman Luca Sbisa connected on a power play and McElhinney finished with 23 saves despite getting cut on the neck by a teammate’s skate, helping Anaheim win for the seventh time in nine games.
“We thought this was going to be easy, but there are no easy games in this league,” Selanne said. “This is a typical example of what happens when you stop playing—especially at the end of the second period when we were up 3-0. If you can’t play 60 minutes of solid hockey, you are going to be having some problems. But we had a goalie that stopped everything in the third period. Without him this would be ugly.
“We take the two points, but we are not very happy how we got them.”
The Ducks, who lost 6-2 at Phoenix on Saturday, are 6-1 this season when coming off defeats in which they allowed five or more goals.
“During the year, stuff like that is going to happen and you’re going to have your ups and downs. So you don’t want to get too high or too low,” forward Jason Blake said. “I hate to say it, but maybe it’s good when you lose a game like last night, because you forget about it and move forward. I wouldn’t say it was a wake up call, because we and the coaching staff try to prepare ourselves every game. But tonight was a great bounce-back.”
The Ducks were leading 2-0 when McElhinney went to his knees to smother a loose puck and was cut by the back of teammate Maxim Lapierre’s skate at 11:36 of the second period. He went to the dressing room to get stitched up and was replaced by Jonas Hiller, who faced three shots before McElhinney returned during a play stoppage at 14:29 of the period after an interference penalty was called against Sbisa.
“It wasn’t pretty, but it wasn’t all that gory,” coach Randy Carlyle said. “Guys get cut all the time and get stitches to close lacerations, so it wasn’t anything abnormal than what we’ve seen before. We’ve seen a lot worse. Curtis battled hard for us, so it was good to see him get a win and get rewarded for his hard work.”
The Ducks killed off the Sbisa penalty, then Edmonton’s Taylor Chorney was called for holding. Selanne cashed in during the ensuing power play, redirecting Lubomir Visnovsky’s long wrist shot past Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin at 17:32 of the second to make it 3-0.
Magnus Paajarvi got Edmonton on the board at 18:18 of the second, converting a long rebound left by McElhinney on a blocker-pad save against Sam Gagner. The Oilers closed to 3-2 just 26 seconds later when Gagner beat McElhinney to the stick side with a one-timer from the left circle. But Mclhinney stopped Edmonton’s final 13 shots.
“It’s tough to say,” McElhinney said when asked if the injury affected his rhythm. “I mean, you’ve been sitting out four or five minutes, then you come back in there and they get two quick ones on you right away. But the nice thing about it is that we had a three-goal lead at that point, we ended the period on top and we came out with a win. So I’m happy.
“There was a tough penalty-kill the last couple of minutes and a bunch of broken sticks, but guys were blocking shots, making a ton of saves out there and making me look good.”
The Oilers are 3-11-2 over their last 16 games and scoreless on 38 straight power plays since Dec. 23, after coming up empty five times on Sunday night. They squandered a chance to tie it in the waning minutes after Toni Lydman was sent off for high-sticking and Andreas Lilja was called for boarding with 20 seconds left in Lydman’s penalty.
“The power play didn’t do what it needed to do again,” coach Tom Renney said. “When you bring a level of intensity to that part of your game, you have a chance. Maybe we learned something there at least. But we lost the hockey game probably because of it.”
The defeat was Edmonton’s seventh in its last eight meetings with Anaheim. Four-time all-star Khabibulin stopped 25 shots and lost his eighth straight since Dec. 16, when he made 37 saves in a 6-3 win against Columbus.
NOTES: Selanne’s first goal resulted in his 1,300th NHL point. He needs two assists to tie Hall of Fame D Brad Park’s total of 683 for 54th place. … Brian Hayward, who has been the Ducks’ TV analyst since the team’s inception in 1993, worked his 1,000th regular-season broadcast with the club and was acknowledged during a pre-game ceremony. Hayward was hired a few months after ending his 11-year NHL goaltending career. … McElhinney is 4-0-0 against Edmonton. … Edmonton, which came in with a league-worst 74.5 percentage on the penalty kill, allowed at least two power play goals for the 12th time this season and third time in five games.