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Ducks Can't Stop Oiler Surge

Edmonton wins, 4-1, to move to within two points of Anaheim in the Western Conference standings. Salo stops 27 shots.

March 08, 2003|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

Vitaly Vishnevski waited 204 games for this and was not allowed to bask in the moment.

He ended the longest current scoreless streak in the NHL on Friday with as pretty a goal as one can get, short-handed no less. But all it ended up meaning was that the Ducks weren't shut out by Edmonton goalie Tommy Salo.

The Oilers looked very much like a playoff-hungry team -- with Salo setting the table -- in a 4-1 victory before an announced 15,818 in a seemingly half-empty Arrowhead Pond.

Fernando Pisani scored two goals, tripling his season total, and Todd Marchant got the game-winner. But it was Salo's performance that ruined Vishnevski's evening.

"We lost the game," Vishnevski said. "It doesn't change anything. My goal doesn't work."

Vishnevski had the lone Duck highlight. He scored the third goal of his career, giving him one on a power play, one even-strength and one short-handed -- the Vishnevski hat trick?

That became a footnote to an important Oiler victory.

Edmonton has won three consecutive games since having a nine-game winless streak.

A week ago, rumors were ripe about who might be traded but none are likely to come to fruition now that the Oilers have pulled within two points of the seventh-place Ducks in the Western Conference.

This was the fourth victory for the Oilers in four games against the Ducks, something Anaheim may regret come playoff time.

"They were the team that was hungrier tonight," Duck Coach Mike Babcock said. "My question is, how does that happen in our building? You don't let anyone come into your house and be hungrier than you are."

The Ducks fed Salo quality shot after quality shot.

Salo, though, made Olympian-type efforts. They were 1994 variety, when Salo stopped Paul Kariya in the shootout to win the gold medal for Sweden, instead of the 2002 type, when he had a puck go off his head and into the net in a stunning loss to Belarus.

Petr Sykora had good scoring chances from the start. Three times, he had point-blank tries from the edge of the crease. Twice, Salo stacked his pads and made the save. Sykora couldn't get a stick on the other opportunity.

Sykora, who had 11 shots on goal, finally beat Salo, only to have the puck hit the crossbar in the second period.

But Sykora wasn't the only one with good chances. Kariya had opportunities but also ended up frustrated.

"We had a lot of chances to put the game away and we didn't," Sykora said.

Salo stopped 27 shots, allowing the Oilers time to collect themselves.

Pisani battled in front to knock in a rebound past goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, tying the score, 1-1, 1:40 into the second period.

"They tied the game and then we got impatient," Babcock said. "We started cheating. We didn't stick to our plan."

Marchant slipped into the slot untouched and unnoticed and one-timed a shot for a 2-1 lead at 15:52 of the second period. Pisani also found himself alone in the slot and buried a shot that buried the Ducks, giving the Oilers a 3-1 lead 14:27 into the third period.

Vishnevski scored his first goal since Oct. 29, 2000.

With teammate Stanislav Chistov off for hooking, Vishnevski charged up ice.

Jason Krog centered a pass from the boards and Vishnevski faked twice before slipping a back-hander top shelf for a 1-0 lead 12:17 into the first period, then pumped his fist like this was an everyday occurrence.

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