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It's Tough to Win in Edmonton

May 23, 2006|Eric Stephens and Lonnie White | Times Staff Writers

EDMONTON, Canada — Teemu Selanne was there that night. So was Todd Marchant.

It was Feb. 24, 1999. The Mighty Ducks won, 2-1, in what was then Skyreach Centre in Edmonton with Paul Kariya scoring the game-winning goal. Craig Hartsburg was the coach, Selanne was on his first tour in Anaheim and Marchant was a young center on the Oilers.

It was also the last time the Ducks won in this city. Twelve defeats and an arena name change later, the team faces a mighty task in trying to break that streak and get back in the Western Conference finals when they play the Oilers in Game 3 tonight at Rexall Place.

But while there has been plenty of talk about the streak, these Ducks insist it is not coming from them. "That's more of a media-generated thing," center Andy McDonald said. "We don't even talk about it in the dressing room."

With two 3-1 losses to open the series, the Ducks have suffered consecutive defeats for the first time in the playoffs.

Now they must win here to send the series back to the Arrowhead Pond. Besides Selanne, defenseman Ruslan Salei is the only other member from that 1999 team.

The Ducks say their past against Edmonton is in the past.

"You guys have made a lot out of the history," Coach Randy Carlyle said, chiding reporters. "What does history get you? It gets you nothing. We're about tomorrow. Not about what's happened in the past."

If they are to win at least once either tonight or Game 4 on Thursday, they will have to do it in a city that has rallied around the Oilers' furthest playoff run since winning the Stanley Cup in 1990. Edmonton forward Fernando Pisani, who grew up near their home arena, can feel the excitement in the city. "It's been a long time," he said. "They've been waiting for this opportunity.... The building [tonight] is just going to be nuts."


The Oilers came home Monday and no, goaltender Dwayne Roloson did not fly the team plane back to Alberta. It only seems that way to the Ducks, who find themselves down because of Roloson. He has given up two goals in 90 shots in the series.

"He, like our team -- and I'm sure there's no coincidence -- has continued to get better [throughout] the playoffs," Edmonton Coach Craig MacTavish said about Roloson, acquired in mid-season from Minnesota in exchange for draft picks.

The combination of Roloson, 36, and the Oilers' gritty defense has so far kept the Ducks quiet.

"We've always maintained as defensemen to try and limit the opportunities and keep it to the outside and we feel that we've done a pretty good job of that," Edmonton's Steve Staios said. "But we've given up some pretty good five-star chances lately and Rollie has been there for us."

Two months ago, not many expected Roloson or Edmonton to be in this position. His critics said he was an aging goaltender who couldn't carry a team. But with one big save after another, he has emerged as a leader on a team that has knocked off favorites Detroit and San Jose.

Roloson, however, still has critics. After the Ducks' Game 2 defeat, Carlyle questioned Roloson's tactics.

"When you get traffic around him, he finds a way to be pretty acrobatic for the referees, complaining about the traffic, and his mask has come off a couple times because he shakes it off ... and that slows down the game when you have momentum."

Said Roloson: "Coach Carlyle can say what he wants. ... We as players just go out and do our job."


Edmonton's Marc-Andre Bergeron and Raffi Torres, who sat out Game 2 because of flu-like symptoms, are expected to play tonight.

Jason Smith -- who with Shawn Horcoff played Sunday despite flu -- may be sidelined, MacTavish said.

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