Anaheim Ducks\' Dustin Penner moves the puck behind the Edmonton Oilers net away from Edmonton\'s Ladislav Smid, of the Czech Republic, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Friday, March 9, 2007, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Henry DiRocco)
"They've got close to a perfect team," Sykora said Friday night after former Ducks teammate Ryan Getzlaf scored two goals and set up another for Anaheim in a 5-1 victory over the undermanned Oilers. They won without Chris Pronger, who missed his second game with a broken toe.
"When Chris Pronger's healthy, they have the two best passing defencemen in the league who can skate with the puck and create an odd-man situation with that first pass - and that makes a huge difference," said Sykora, who spent two-plus seasons with Anaheim before he was traded to the New York Rangers last season. "They have two top scoring lines with a lot of skill, a checking line that is hard to play against, and they have a toughness on their fourth line."
Corey Perry and Dustin Penner each had a goal and an assist, helping Anaheim win its fourth in a row and send Edmonton to its sixth straight loss.
Ilya Bryzgalov made 28 saves for the Ducks, who have 41 victories and lead the division with 93 points. They are two wins and five points from equalling the franchise record both set last season.
"We're headed in the right direction, and hopefully we can keep playing like that," said Andy McDonald, who completed the scoring with his 20th goal. "If we're going to have any success in the playoffs, we're going to have to compete like that every night."
McDonald's goal with 2:06 left in the game made him the fifth Anaheim player this season to score at least 20. The Ducks had never had more than three 20-goal scorers in one season since joining the NHL in 1993-94.
"I wouldn't say I was confident from the beginning of the season that we'd get this kind of balanced scoring, because it puts lots of pressure on your younger players," coach Randy Carlyle said.
"You can't go into the summer and say that you've got a couple of second-year players and rookies that you can expect 20 goals out of. But we've been able to allow those young players to develop under much less pressure because we get a huge contribution from the back end of our lineup. And that's always a comfort."
Toby Petersen scored a short-handed goal for the Oilers, who have yet to win since trading Ryan Smyth to the New York Islanders on March 1. They faced the Ducks with five forwards and five defencemen sidelined by injuries, and dressed only 17 skaters - including defenceman Bryan Young, who made his NHL debut.
"Obviously, we're missing some key guys and it's hard to play like that," Sykora said. "We don't have a lot of scoring power, so we don't really have anything going as far as lines are concerned."
To make matters worse for the Oilers, goalie Dwayne Roloson and backup Jussi Markkanen were both dealing with the flu. But coach Craig MacTavish had to put someone in goal - so Markkanen got the nod after losing 3-1 to Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
Making consecutive starts for only the second time this season, Markkanen gave up a goal on the first shot he faced, and was immediately replaced by Roloson 78 seconds after the opening faceoff.
Getzlaf scored on a one-timer from the left point that deflected off the stick of Oilers forward Fernando Pisani and beat Markkanen to the stick side while Shawn Horcoff was off for high-sticking McDonald.
"It was a terrible goal, and it was just unacceptable to let that in at this level, in my mind," MacTavish said. "Even though it hit Pisani's stick, it looked like a very savable shot. Jussi had had some success in this building in the past, and I expected him to go in and play a decent game."
Roloson stopped the first nine shots he faced before Perry scored his 15th goal at 1:53 of the second period. Getzlaf made it 3-0 at 5:33 of the period with his 23rd of the season.
Petersen helped the Oilers avoid their third shutout in six games at 10:57 of the second period with his second career short-handed goal, and only the third allowed by Anaheim this season. But Sykora received a four-minute high-sticking penalty for cutting Penner, who scored his 25th goal on the ensuing power play to give Anaheim a 4-1 lead at 18:10 of the second.
Notes: The Oilers had only one power play - after McDonald was penalized for interference against Brad Winchester with 6:18 left in the third period. ... The only other time this season that Roloson did not start consecutive games was late January, when Markkanen beat Los Angeles 4-3 and Columbus 5-2 at the end of a five-game homestand. ... The Ducks won the season series for the first time since 1997-98, by a 3-1 margin. The Oilers were 14-2 against Anaheim over the previous four seasons. ... Pronger played in only two of the four meetings with Edmonton and had four assists. He missed one other game because of a broken left foot. The Oilers traded him to the Ducks on July 3 after coming within one victory of winning the Stanley Cup.