FROM EDMONTON, CANADA — It was a deja vu moment when Edmonton Coach Craig MacTavish questioned the legality of Teemu Selanne's stick late in the third period Tuesday.
Shades of the Montreal Canadiens asking for a measurement of Kings defenseman Marty McSorley's stick during Game 2 of the 1993 Stanley Cup finals. And Selanne's teammates feared that like McSorley, Selanne would be on the wrong side of the measuring gauge.
"Uh, yeah, because have you seen that paddle?" winger Bobby Ryan said. "I was like, 'Oh, here we go.' "
Selanne insisted all his sticks are legal, and that might be true. The width of the blade MacTavish questioned with 2:11 left in the third period was found to be legal, giving the Ducks a power play they used to cement a crucial 5-3 victory over the Oilers before an unhappy crowd at Rexall Place.
The incident gave the Ducks a few chuckles after a tense game that vaulted them back into seventh place in the West.
Their 4-1 lead had been dented when Denis Grebeshkov scored on a short wrist shot with 3:27 left and was in peril when Zach Stortini tipped in Tom Gilbert's shot with 2:11 left. MacTavish then asked the officials to measure Selanne's stick. Had he been right, the Oilers would have gotten a power play.
Scott Niedermayer, who had a goal and two assists to nudge brother Rob (two goals) for the family scoring honors, was nervous about the outcome of the measurement.
"Yeah," he said. "Obviously he had a little time before the game to get it right."
MacTavish, whose team's playoff hopes took a huge hit, said the decision was "a terrible mistake."
That would be the polite way to phrase it.
"You've got to be sure in a situation like that," he said. "I had what I thought was enough information to be sure enough."
Sure enough wasn't good enough, though Selanne has been caught with an illegal stick before. Two years ago he gave a stick as a present to Ron Wilson, his former coach with the Ducks, only to have Wilson nail him for an illegal curve during a game.
He said he goes "to the borderline" on width restrictions now so he can better control the puck on ice that varies wildly from building to building around the league. He might have been the only Duck who wasn't worried when MacTavish made the request.
"Maybe I should sign the stick for him," Selanne said.
The Ducks could afford to laugh after improving to 5-0-1 in their last six road games and winning for the seventh time in their last eight games overall.
Ryan Getzlaf's two assists gave him 83 points, his single-season best, Ryan stood up to rugged defenseman Steve Staios in the first period and withstood a high stick from Gilbert that gave the Ducks a four-minute advantage, which they capitalized on when Chris Pronger's long blast beat Dwayne Roloson, whose 33rd straight start in net for the Oilers was far from his best.
"It would be nice to solidify our position," Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said. "We're just giving ourselves a chance to live another day, and that's really all you can do."
The Oilers had scored first, at 10:04 of the first period. With Rob Niedermayer serving a high-sticking penalty, Andrew Cogliano took a clever pass from Ales Kotalik and snapped it past Jonas Hiller to the goalie's glove side.
The Ducks killed a penalty called against Sheldon Brookbank for roughing and were rewarded when Brookbank scored 13 seconds after his penalty expired. He was set up on an excellent drop pass from Getzlaf and ripped a shot past Roloson's stick from about 30 feet out at 14:13 of the opening period.
The Oilers took a penalty for too many men on the ice with 38 seconds left in the first period and they paid for that mistake 33 seconds into the second period. Scott Niedermayer finished off a flashy passing play when he dashed in from the blue line and beat Roloson from between the circles.
Pronger, still booed for asking the Oilers to trade him after their run to the 2006 Cup Finals, made it 3-1 at 5:13 of the second period, and Rob Niedermayer extended that to 4-1 when he scored from a sharp angle on the right side at 18:35 of the period.
All seemed routine until Grebeshkov and Stortini got the Oilers back in it -- and MacTavish took them out. Rob Niedermayer scored into the empty net to ensure the Ducks would be back in the top eight in the West.
They're seventh today but could be eighth the next day.
"You try not to look at it, for too long, anyway," Scott Niedermayer said. "We put ourselves in a situation where we can't look around."
They're in a better place than MacTavish, anyway.