Ex-Oiler Chris Pronger booed as Anaheim Ducks defeat Edmonton Oilers 3-2

The Canadian Press
By: The Canadian Press
Nov 29, 2006
The Hockey News

Ex-Oiler Chris Pronger booed as Anaheim Ducks defeat Edmonton Oilers 3-2

The Canadian Press
By: The Canadian Press
Nov 29, 2006

The Anaheim Ducks tied the game with 17 seconds left in the third period before Ryan Getzlaf fired the puck though Dwayne Roloson's legs for a 3-2 overtime win over the Edmonton Oilers in NHL action. "It's always nice to win when you come back and play a team you used to play for," said Pronger.

The fan abuse, he said, wasn't too bad. "Obviously you've got to expect the worst. It was respectful, I think."

Teemu Selanne and Chris Kunitz also scored for Anaheim while Marty Reasoner and Ryan Smyth replied for Edmonton.

The win snapped the Oilers five-game winning streak.

Fans booed and jeered Pronger every time he touched the puck in the close-checking game before 16,839 fans at Rexall Place.

Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer, playing in his 1,000th NHL game, said they were keyed up to win it for Pronger.

"We knew it would a bit difficult for him coming back in here and we wanted to support him as much as we could," he said.

The Oilers charged out to an early 2-0 lead, outshooting the Ducks 11-3 in the first period, but then fell back as the Ducks came in waves the rest of the way.

"We were coming on and they were going backwards," said Pronger.

With Ducks' goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere pulled for an extra attacker, Kunitz grabbed the puck from a goalmouth scramble and backhanded the puck past Roloson just over two minutes into the overtime frame.

It's the second time this season the Oilers have fallen to Anaheim, having lost 6-2 in southern California a month ago

Speaking in a dead-silent Oiler locker-room, coach Craig MacTavish said the writing was on the wall.

"It looked inevitable that they would get the goal. We played basically the whole third period in our own


"We got basically what we deserved."

Roloson said they brought everything but a killer instinct: "We did all the right things to win the hockey game but weren't able to finish it off."

He said the fan booing didn't seem to affect Pronger.

"He thrives on this type of atmosphere. "When you have played as well as he has over the past, teams hate you and they want to come out and play hard on you, and the fans want to nail you too."

Reasoner opened the scoring almost eight minutes into the first period firing a wrist shot from a bad angle over Giguere's shoulder.

Edmonton made it 2-0 early in the second when Fernando Pisani backhanded the puck off Smyth's skate into the net.

When the anti-Pronger boos began to trial off midway through the second period, it was Pronger who reignited them. With the Ducks on the power play, he fired a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle that Selanne, standing at the crease, redirected into the net.

Pronger shocked the Alberta capital in June when he asked for a trade but refused to publicly say why. Many felt betrayed by the six-foot-six, 220-pound defenceman, who was the driving force behind an Oiler team that came to within one game of winning last spring's Stanley Cup.

Fans in Oiler jerseys and garish blue wigs booed him when he touched the puck in the pre-game warmup, rising up to shout "You suck!" and flash homemade signs in angry shades of neon green and orange when he swooped near the Plexiglas in his new white jersey with the trademark duck-webbed D.

The signs were comical to angry:

"Tell the Truth, Chris," read one. "The Gap in Your Story is Bigger Than the Gap in Your Teeth."

"Chris: 1985 Phoned; They Want Their Hair Back."

Almost all of the signs were confiscated by security under a policy of maintaining a family friendly atmosphere.

During the game, they serenaded Pronger with chants of "You Sold Out!" along with a mournful drawn-out "Prawwwwnnnngerrr!" When he got his assist, they loudly compared him to the hindmost part of the human anatomy.

The 32-year-old former Hart Trophy winner didn't appear fazed and never looked beyond the ice surface. He said he noticed one sign: a yellow sunburst that read "Thanks, Chris."

He had been the talk of the city for almost a week before the return trip. Fans began chanting "Pronger sucks!" in the closing minutes of last Friday's game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

He has been all-gold for the Ducks. He leads all defencemen in the NHL with 27 points (four goals, 23 assists). His plus-16 rating is second only to the plus-23 of Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom.

Notes: Slick playmaking Oiler winger Ales Hemsky left in the first period with a right shoulder injury and will be assessed Wednesday;a Oiler defenceman Steve Staios was scratched because of a sprained knee . . . Security at the rink was tight as one drunk and apparent would-be streaker was foiled. He was led away shirtless, clad only in peacock-blue underwear and black socks.

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Ex-Oiler Chris Pronger booed as Anaheim Ducks defeat Edmonton Oilers 3-2