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Ducks hope net traffic will keep them out of 0-2 hole

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- To avoid sinking into a deep hole, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks figure they must put heavy traffic in front of Edmonton's Dwayne Roloson.

"It's no different than any other goaltender. If they have clear sight of the puck at all times and they're out in position, you're not going to beat many of them," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said Saturday.

"That's the one thing we've got to try to change. We've got to get people inside and we have to shoot the puck in different areas and continually drive," he said.

Anaheim defenseman Scott Niedermayer added: "It's the same old story. We need to go to the net, to try to get rebounds. That's no secret."

Roloson made 31 saves and assisted on the Oilers' first goal as they took a 3-1 victory in the opening game of the Western Conference finals. Game 2 is Sunday night in Anaheim before the series shifts to Edmonton, where the Ducks haven't won since 1999.

"I don't think we'll be looking past [Game 2]," Niedermayer said. "We'll have our hands full."

The Ducks were coming off a weeklong layoff and the Oilers had only a one-day break after ending their second-round series, but that didn't seem to make much difference Friday.

Both teams played with high energy and essentially on even terms. The Oilers ran their winning streak to five and halted Anaheim's victory string at six.

Although they lost, the Ducks outshot the Oilers 32-26.

"I think the one thing that we proved to ourselves is that we can shoot the puck at the net, but I didn't think we had enough traffic going in that direction," Carlyle said. "You have to credit them, they kept us to the outside and [Roloson] was able to see a lot of the pucks that were directed toward him."

Anaheim goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, a 25-year-old rookie from Russia, had 24 saves, but he couldn't stop Michael Peca's first-period shot on a breakaway or Ales Hemsky's bunt-like tap of a rebound in the second period.

Peca scored a shorthanded goal late in the opening period after Roloson lofted a long, high clearing pass. Anaheim's Andy McDonald evened it with a power-play goal 28 seconds later, but Hemsky scored the go-ahead goal midway through the second period. Todd Harvey added an empty-net goal in the waning seconds.

Roloson deflected credit the same way he deflects shots.

"A big reason why we've been having great success is because of the guys in front of me. It's not really me," said the 36-year-old goalie, who came to Edmonton in a March trade with Minnesota. "Every once in a while, I'll make a save, but the guys are blocking shots and doing all the little things.

"Like last night there was a shot I couldn't see and Prongs [Chris Pronger] makes a skate save, a beauty, and puts it in the corner. The guys in front of me are playing better than I am," he said.

The Oilers would obviously like to take a 2-0 series lead with them back to Edmonton, where games are scheduled Tuesday and Thursday.

The victory over the Ducks was their first in a series opener this postseason. They lost the first game to Detroit in the opening round and then fell two behind San Jose before storming back to win four straight.

"Obviously, going into Game 2 we have a chance to bring some momentum back to Edmonton," Oilers forward Shawn Horcoff said. "It's nice getting that first win. We hadn't done that yet, and we've had to kind of fight and claw our way back.

"So we realize the situation we're in, but at the same time, we know they're going to get better," he said.

The Oilers haven't held a 2-0 lead in a playoff series since 1990 against Boston, when they won their fifth and most recent Stanley Cup. Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish played for the Oilers back then.

"I see a number of comparables between us and that team," MacTavish said, mentioning the Oilers' good goaltending then and how that team continued to improve throughout the playoffs the same way this one has.