ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA (TICKER) —Rookie Fernando Pisani’s first career two-goal game had several ramifications on the Western Conference playoff race.
Pisani, who came in with just one goal in 21 contests, helped the Oilers extend their winning streak to three games. But his big night also moved the eighth-place Oilers within two points of Minnesota and Anaheim and kept them five ahead of Nashville.
“Tonight helps, I feel confident we’re going to stay in it,” Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. “I feel confident we’ll survive it and be in the playoffs. They were two big games for us, coming down to California. To beat LA last night and Anaheim tonight, it effectively puts Anaheim back in the playoff race. Instead of us having the bull’s-eye on our backs, we’re starting to bring Minnesota and Anaheim back in it.”
Pisani, whose other tally also came against Anaheim on February 5, scored the first of four unanswered goals 1:40 into the second. Off a scramble in front, defenseman Scott Ferguson’s shot deflected off Pisani’s leg. Ferguson was intially credited with the goal, but it was changed after replay officials reviewed the play.
The 26-year-old center capped his best offensive game in the NHL at 14:27 of the third period, when his shot from the slot went through Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere’s pads.
“Well, he brings us reliability and he’s got an understanding of the game, not only checking, but he’s got a good finish around the net,” MacTavish said. “He’s a guy who put the puck in the net in the AHL and he knows what to do with the puck.”
Moreau also set up Pisani’s two scores and capped Edmonton’s first win by at least three goals since January 29 with a shorthanded empty-netter.
“We’ve been searching to find a role for Ethan and the other guys,” MacTavish said. “Pisani has played really well. It’s good to have that line. We haven’t had that type of line since Todd, Ethan and Griersy (Mike Grier). You can throw that line out there when you’re nursing a one-goal lead and not only are they getting the puck out their own end, they’re moving the puck, working off the puck in the offensive zone.”
Defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski scored the lone goal for the Mighty Ducks, ending a league-high 204-game drought dating to October 29, 2000.
Playing on back-to-back nights for the first time in a month, the Oilers appeared sluggish in the first period and needed several big saves from Salo, who stopped partial breakaway attempts by Paul Kariya and Petr Sykora.
Vishnevski ended his drought when he put a backhander under Salo’s left pad with 7:48 remaining in the first while the Ducks were shorthanded.
But the Oilers, who swept the season series from the Ducks for the first time, scored two goals in the second period and took the lead for good when Marchant took rookie Ales Hemsky’s centering pass and beat Giguere at 15:52 with a 20-foot wrist shot.
“We came out and got off to a good start,” Ducks coach Mike Babcock said. “We had numerous, numerous, numerous opportunities. Once they tied the game, I felt we got impatient. We started cheating in. Let’s face it, their goaltender was the star of the game. He allowed them to weather the storm early and when they got their opportunities, they buried them. I felt that they were hungrier than we were.”
“We’re playing good now,” Salo said. “I think that is the key. You have to play defensively to win hockey games, and we’re doing that right now. We haven’t scored a lot of goals, but at the same time, we’re getting key goals.”