Edmonton Oilers Ryan Smyth celebrates a goal by teammate Jason Smith (not shown) against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period. (CP PHOTO/Jimmy Jeong)
Smyth had two goals and an assist as the Edmonton Oilers defeated Anaheim 4-1 on Thursday. It was their first win in three games this season versus the injury-riddled and struggling Ducks. Among Anaheim's injured is ex-Olier Pronger, who's out with a broken foot.
Many fans purchased tickets months in advance to voice for a second time their displeasure about Pronger's decision to defect from Edmonton following the Oilers' run to the Stanley Cup final last season.
Jason Smith and Toby Petersen also scored 27 seconds apart late in the second period for the Oilers (23-20-4), who've won two straight and four of their last six games.
"It was a very important win for this team," said Smyth. "We want to get ourselves back in a playoff position. We feel we have a good bunch of guys here despite a few injuries here and there. We have a lot of character."
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish was pleased to see his team bounce back from a tough start.
"We started off pretty slow and found our rhythm," he said. "It was a good game for us. We had a good finish to the second and then maybe our best period in the third. Given the extent of the injuries we have it was a pretty resilient effort by the guys."
Teemu Selanne had the lone goal for the Ducks (30-11-8), who have just two wins in their last 10 games. Selanne says his team is as low right now as they have been all season.
"We're making too many mistakes right now. As a team we don't have too much confidence. Too many guys heads go down. It's tough right now. It's pretty frustrating. Right now we are not
playing a full 60 minutes.
"But we have to stay positive and stick together. Obviously we can do things better."
Anaheim opened the scoring at 6:27, thanks to an Edmonton miscue. Marc-Andre Bergeron coughed up the puck to Selanne deep in the Oilers zone, and the veteran winger beat goalie Dwayne Roloson to the glove side for his 30th goal of the season.
Edmonton surged ahead with two goals late in the second. Smith tied the game when his shot from the point at 18:55 found its way through a maze of players and Anaheim goalie Ilya Bryzgalov's legs. Just 27 seconds later, a bouncing puck found its way to Petersen in front of the Ducks net and he batted it in.
"We knew we had to come out hard in the second," said Petersen. "The game was still there for the taking. We felt fortunate to be in a position to come back after playing as bad as we did in the first period."
Edmonton went ahead 3-1 at 8:35 of the third when Shawn Horcoff's centring pass hit Selanne's skate, then went in off Smyth's stick. Smyth added his 23rd goal of the season at 13:47, deflecting a perfect pass from Horcoff past a helpless Bryzgalov.
Both teams have Calgary as their next opponent. The Ducks play the Flames on Friday before Edmonton hosts the Flames on Saturday.
NOTES: Oilers forward Jarret Stoll left the game midway through the first with a fractured nose after a hit along the boards and did not return due to dizzy spells. . . . Edmonton's Ales Hemsky was a late-day scratch with an upper body injury. He is listed as day-to-day. . . . Selanne's first period goal marked the ninth time in his career he has managed to hit the 30-goal plateau.