Oilers beat Ducks 3-1 to take Game 1
"We haven't won a Game 1 yet in the playoffs," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish after the game. "So obviously we've had success losing them. Much prefer the opportunity that we have with the win tonight."
Edmonton carried the play early, outshooting Anaheim 2-0 4:30 into the game. Their hard work paid off in getting the first power play of the game and series when Joffrey Lupul was sent off for hooking.
The Ducks did a good job killing off the penalty, their 37th consecutive penalty kill this postseason. The Oilers got set up a few times but couldn't manage a shot on goal.
Anaheim had a pair of great scoring chances close to the midway point of the period. First, Andy McDonald was denied on a good scoring chance in the slot. Seconds later, Roloson got caught behind the Anaheim net but was able to scramble in time to stop Todd Fedoruk's shot.
Edmonton's penalty-kill unit did an equally impressive job after Jaroslav Spacek was sent off for holding, putting Anaheim on its first power play.
Near the end of the first, a questionable call was made after Chris Kunitz took a leap at Chris Pronger in the corner but it was Pronger who received a penalty, two minutes for elbowing.
However, it was Edmonton that capitalized as Dwayne Roloson backhanded the puck across two lines to Michael Peca, sending him in alone on Bryzgalov. Peca deked the Ducks netminder to score and make it a 1-0 game.
On that same power play, Anaheim came right back and scored to tie it up at 1-1. Andy McDonald teed up a shot at the left circle that beat Roloson over the shoulder.
Edmonton outshot Anaheim 10-9 after one period of play.
Early in the second, Francois Beauchemin absolutely rocked Ales Hemsky as the Oilers winger was skating with the puck along his own blueline.
Edmonton started to carry the play as the second period continued on. Sean O'Donnell hooked Todd Marchant behind the Edmonton net, putting the Oilers on their third power play. With 35 seconds left in the O'Donnell minor, Vishnevsky clipped Raffi Torres with a high stick to give Edmonton a two-man advantage.
The Mighty Ducks were able to kill off the first penalty, but with 1:06 remaining in Vishnevsky's minor, Ryan Smyth fired a shot on net and Hemsky batted in the rebound. After a video review to see if it was hit by a high stick, it was a ruled a goal.
Hemsky bounced back after being rocked several shifts earlier to get the goal.
"He's a tough kid," said MacTavish. "He can take the pounding. That was a pretty violent hit that he took. But, you know, didn't dissuade him too much. Came out and got the winning goal."
Selanne had a good scoring chance right at the buzzer, but Roloson challenged Selanne in the slot and denied the Finnish Flash on the wrist shot.
Shots on goal after two were 21-18 Edmonton.
Good forechecking and puck possession by Andy McDonald deep in the Oilers zone resulted in an early third period Anaheim power play, Dwayne Roloson for tripping.
The Ducks' best chance came just as the penalty was expiring. Scott Niedermayer pinched in and fired a shot from the left circle that beaned Roloson in the mask before he was able to scramble and scoop up the rebound.
After an icing call, the Oilers found themselves in some trouble with the fourth line and third defence pairing up against Anaheim's top unit. The situation compounded itself after Rem Murray broke his stick.
The Oilers were able to clear the puck and get out of the jam but before the next whistle, Chris Pronger was sent to the box giving Anaheim a power play with 5:58 to go.
On the ensuing power play, Anaheim got several shots away on Roloson but couldn't beat the Edmonton netminder. The Oilers did a great job clearing the zone and making sure the Ducks didn't get a lot of pressure.
Todd Harvey added an empty-net goal in the final minute to clinch the game for Edmonton.
The Oilers now have a chance to take a commanding 2-0 series lead with a win on Sunday.
"We have a pretty significant opportunity coming back here on Sunday to win both these games and ultimately the deciding factor is which team's able to take advantage of those opportunities," said MacTavish.
NOTES: Edmonton went with the same lineup as Game 6 versus San Jose... Anaheim's scratches were Jason Marshall and Corey Perry... Hemsky's power play goal was the first allowed by Anaheim in 39 attempts dating back to Game 5 against Calgary... Edmonton had seven shorthanded shots on goal... 22 years ago today, the Oilers won their first Stanley Cup, defeating NY Islanders four games to one.