ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Edmonton goalie Dwayne Roloson made 31
saves -- and one exceptional pass.
Roloson stymied Anaheim's offense, and chipped in with an assist
Friday night as the Oilers opened the Western Conference finals
with a 3-1 victory over the Mighty Ducks.
After Roloson's clearing pass led to Michael Peca's goal in the
first period, Ales Hemsky scored the go-ahead goal in the second.
Todd Harvey added an empty-netter in the closing seconds.
With top defenseman Chris Pronger off for elbowing, Roloson set
up the Oilers' short-handed goal with a backhanded clearing pass,
lofting the puck high and far down the ice. Peca broke behind the
Ducks, picked up the puck and went 1-on-1 with Ilya Bryzgalov,
beating him with a backhander underneath the rookie goalie's right
Asked about his perfect "fastbreak lob," Roloson grinned and
said, "I used to do that in college all the time. Fortunately,
Michael got the jump on some of their guys."
Peca said he realized he had to turn on the speed.
"It's not something you practice, but you know he has the
ability to get it to center ice. Once he turned his hand over I
knew I had to get up ice," Peca said.
"We had never connected on it. He knows I am going to look for
that ice and I know he's going to try and get the puck in that spot
if he has the time to do it."
Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said the play was not a fluke.
"Their goaltender is strong on his backhand, and we didn't read
the situation properly where we allowed Peca to get in behind us,"
"I guess it caught us by surprise."
The 36-year-old Roloson, who has resurrected his career since
Edmonton acquired him from Minnesota in March, was with the Wild
when they lost to Anaheim in the 2003 playoffs.
In the opener this time, Roloson was especially effective at
smothering the puck when the Ducks had traffic in front.
Edmonton, which had just one day off between the end of its
series against San Jose and the beginning of the best-of-seven
conference finals versus Anaheim, still matched the Ducks in
energy, speed and checking. All that added up to the Oilers' fifth
straight victory after they fell behind the Sharks 0-2 in the
Anaheim hadn't played since completing a sweep of Colorado on
May 11 and vowed that rust wouldn't be a factor once the puck
dropped for the opener against Edmonton.
The victory was the Oilers' first in a series opener in this
"Obviously, we've had success losing them, but you much prefer
the opportunity that we have with the win tonight," Edmonton coach
Craig MacTavish said. "We have a pretty significant opportunity
coming back here on Sunday to win both these games."
After Game 2 in Anaheim, the series shifts to Edmonton where the
Ducks haven't won since 1999. The Western Conference champion will
play for the Stanley Cup against Buffalo or Carolina.
Peca opened the scoring for Edmonton at 18:35 of the first, and
the Ducks' Andy McDonald evened it 28 seconds later. The goal was
Peca's third of the playoffs, and he also scored in the Game 6
clinching victory over San Jose.
Bryzgalov made 24 saves, but had little chance of stopping the
two shots that got by him.
Hemsky gave the Oilers a 2-1 lead at 11:36 of the second period
with his fourth goal of the postseason. Ryan Smyth's slap shot
bounced off Bryzgalov and into the air. Hemsky, slicing across the
crease from the right side, batted the puck past the goalie's right
shoulder, too quickly for Bryzgalov to react.
The Oilers had barely finished celebrating when McDonald got off
a slap shot from beyond the left circle that sailed past Roloson
and into the net. The power-play goal, with Pronger still in the
box, was McDonald's second of the playoffs.
The Oilers have won 17 of 21 meetings with Anaheim, including a
sweep during this regular season when they were tied or trailed
after two periods of each of the four games.Game notes
The Oilers are the only former Stanley Cup champions still
alive in the playoffs. They have won the Cup five times, the last
in 1990. ... Hemsky's goal ended a streak of 39 straight power
plays the Ducks had killed dating to Game 5 of their first-round
series against Calgary. ... The Ducks have home-ice advantage
because they were seeded sixth, two notches above the upstart
Oilers -- the bottom seed in the Western Conference playoffs. ...
The Ducks were the seventh seed in the West in 2003 when they
reached the Stanley Cup finals and lost to New Jersey in seven