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GAME DAY MORNING
Due to the early start for Sunday's game, the Oilers opted out of a morning skate and instead held a team meeting and addressed the media at the hotel.
Following Saturday's disappointing 5-2 loss in Los Angeles, the topic du jour was how to prevent a repeat performance and close out the five-game road trip with a win in Anaheim.
Fans might see some changes to Edmonton's line-up tonight, but head coach Tom Renney was mum about the details.
"I'm looking at some injury possibilities too that will reflect to a point, I think, on what the line-up might look like," he hinted. "If everybody's healthy, there's still some chance that we'll make a change or two."
In net, Nikolai Khabibulin will be back between the pipes after Devan Dubnyk started the past two games.
"You always need your goaltenders to come up big on certain nights, and certainly with us, probably more often than any goalie would like," the coach admitted. "But that's a function of our team right now. We need that type of goaltending, and we believe he (Khabibulin) can deliver on it."
SPARKING THE POWER-PLAY
In front of Khabibulin, the Oilers are looking for some improved offensive contributions, especially on the power-play. The club was unsuccessful in five man-advantages last night vs. the Kings, bringing their power-play drought to 32 opportunities over 10 games. The last time Edmonton scored on the power-play was Dec. 23 in Los Angeles.
The solution is simple, according to Renney.
"The bottom line is get it to the net. I think that's a function of any team that's looking to simplify things, that is the end product."
A strong power-play and penalty kill will be key in tonight's game, the coach added.
"Specialty teams will be big, really big for us. I think we've got to make sure that this team we're playing tonight realizes that we came to play tonight right from the drop of the puck, and that manifests itself in a number of different ways.
"Beyond that, we have to play a game that shows a responsibility to the puck, to your teammates, and quite honestly the organization."
Defenceman Tom Gilbert expects a physical fight.
"They've got real big forwards, so they're always going to finish their checks regardless of who it is. They get the puck deep, they're a fast team, they'll get on there in the forecheck, so for us it's about getting that puck moving as quick as we can up the ice and just avoid turnovers."
-- Jen Sharpe, edmontonoilers.com
Last 10: Edmonton 2-7-1; Anaheim 6-3-1
Season Series: The teams are meeting for the third of four times this season. The road team has won the first two, with Edmonton winning 4-2 at the Honda Center on Nov. 21 and the Ducks taking a 3-2 shootout victory at Rexall Place on Dec. 7.
Big Story: Both teams are trying to bounce back after disappointing performances on Saturday night. The Ducks, desperate for points in the tight Western Conference race, were blown out 6-2 at Phoenix and fell to eighth in the playoff scramble. Edmonton was unable to build on Thursday's win at San Jose and fell 5-2 at Los Angeles as the power play continued to struggle.
Oilers: The Oilers are going to have a tough time winning without some production from the power play. The man-advantage unit hung up another 0-fer in the loss to the Kings, going 0-for-5 and dropping to 0-for-33 since Taylor Hall scored on Dec. 23.
Coach Tom Renney is hinting that changes could be in the offing.
"We can move some people around and we can use the fourth line -- they'd probably be just as good. Third line too," he said. "There are options that a coach can use, including manpower and a combination of people, and we'll look at that."
Ducks: It's a big game for the Ducks -- not only do they need to rebound after being whacked in Phoenix, but this is their last home game before the All-Star break. In all, they play eight of their next nine away from home.
They can't afford another second period like the one they had in Phoenix, when the Coyotes scored three unanswered goals for a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes. Coach Randy Carlyle did everything short of putting on the skates himself -- he used his timeout, changed goalies and juggled lines. Nothing worked.
"And the first line I juggled got scored on," Carlyle said. "It was just one of those nights. I don't have an explanation for it but we have to find one in a hurry."
Who's Hot: Oilers forward Dustin Penner has goals in Edmonton's last two games. … Anaheim's Corey Perry has a goal and an assist in each of the Ducks' last two games. Bobby Ryan has 6 goals and 8 points in his last four games.
Injury Report: Edmonton defenseman Ryan Whitney, out with an ankle injury, reportedly is headed for surgery. Captain Shawn Horcoff (knee) hopes to be back this week. Winger Gilbert Brule is out with an ankle injury, as is defenseman Jim Vandermeer. Rookie forward Jordan Eberle is still recovering from an ankle injury and an appendectomy. …The Ducks are still without captain Ryan Getzlaf (facial fractures) and forward Aaron Voros (broken orbital bone).
Stat Pack: Anaheim has won six of the last seven games against Edmonton. … The Oilers have seven of the 10 shutouts in the all-time series between the teams.
Puck Drop: The Oilers aren't great at 5-on-5 -- they score about four goals for every five they give up -- but they're getting killed on special teams. The power play's slide has dropped them to 29th in the League at 13.1 percent, and they're last on the penalty kill at 74.5 percent. That doesn't bode well for this game -- the Ducks are fourth in the League with a 22.8 percent success rate on the power play.
-- John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist