The Anaheim Ducks hope to keep showing they can win without Chris Pronger. It should help they don’t have to leave home while playing mostly mediocre opponents until he is expected to return.
The Ducks look to make it back-to-back victories since losing their All-Star defenseman and win a season-high fifth straight at home when they face the listless Edmonton Oilers on Friday.
Anaheim (40-17-11) learned Wednesday it would be without Pronger for about two weeks due to a broken toe. He is fourth on the Ducks with 53 points and leads them with a plus-26 rating.
It’s likely he will not play for the rest of the Ducks’ eight-game homestand, which has five games remaining. Four of them come against Western Conference teams that are unlikely to make the playoffs—Edmonton, Columbus, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Anaheim beat another of the West’s worst teams on Wednesday night in its first game since Pronger got hurt, defeating Phoenix 2-1 on Joe DiPenta’s goal with 8:02 to play.
“We definitely feel some pressure because Chris is a big-time player and it’s impossible to fill his shoes completely,” DiPenta said. “But each one of us has to pick up our game a little bit and try to fill in until he gets back. It’s part of being a hockey team.”
Anaheim hopes to avoid a similar slide as it had when Pronger was injured earlier this season. The Ducks endured a 2-5-2 stretch in January as he sat out with a broken foot.
Pronger keyed a resurgence for the Ducks, whose 17 points since Feb. 14 are the most in the NHL. They have only one regulation loss in their last 11 games, a stretch during which winger Teemu Selanne has seven goals and eight assists.
Wednesday’s win was the fourth straight at home for the Ducks, who don’t play on the road again until visiting Phoenix on March 22. Only Detroit has fewer home losses in regulation this season than Anaheim’s five.
Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere is 9-0-2 in his last 11 home starts, and has a 1.50 goals-against average in his last 14 appearances at home.
Giguere has helped Anaheim kill off all 12 of its opponents’ power plays on this homestand.
Edmonton (30-31-6) has failed to score in 16 power-play opportunities during its season-high five-game losing streak. That skid coincides with the team’s trade of star left wing Ryan Smyth to the New York Islanders.
His absence and a bevy of injuries have left the Oilers reeling. Already down eight players, Edmonton lost defensemen Steve Staios (knee) and Jan Hejda (shoulder) during Wednesday’s 3-1 home loss to Tampa Bay.
“It was another frustrating evening with some of the injuries,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. “It’s a difficult time. We’re totally running out of bodies.
“It’s unreal. And the timing of it all. It’s a weird situation that I haven’t seen before.”
The Oilers have been outscored 19-4 in this five-game slide, recording their longest losing streak since dropping seven straight from Oct. 10-25, 2005.
Edmonton goes into this matchup hoping to avoid losing the season series with Anaheim for the first time since 1997-98. The Oilers lost the first two meetings before winning the last one, 4-1 on Jan. 18.