Ducks-Oilers Preview

The Associated Press

The Anaheim Ducks are on the verge of clinching their first division title in six years.

The Edmonton Oilers have insured they'll be missing out on the playoffs for a seventh straight season.

The Ducks look to sweep a two-game trip to Edmonton and clinch the Pacific Division on Monday night.

Anaheim (28-11-6) snapped a four-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over the Oilers on Sunday. The Ducks, who have a five-point lead over Vancouver and Los Angeles for second place in the Western Conference, can capture the division with a win or a regulation loss by the Kings on Tuesday at Minnesota.

"It was a step closer to where we want to be," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "There are still mistakes that we need to eliminate going into the playoffs, but this was a much-needed win and one that I felt we deserved. It's all about playing the right way going into the playoffs."

The Ducks' only other division crown - which came in 2007 - proved to be a launching pad for bigger success as the franchise won its only Stanley Cup.

Meanwhile, with a seventh loss in eight games, the Oilers' playoff drought becomes the league's longest as Toronto has clinched a spot in the postseason to end its own nine-year dry spell.

Edmonton (17-20-7) hasn't appeared in the playoffs since losing Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup finals to Carolina.

"To have another season where we're out of the playoffs, another season where we're playing meaningless games at the end of the year, is very frustrating," Taylor Hall said. "It's something we're not proud of."

Hall gave the Oilers a good start Sunday, scoring his 15th goal only a minute in. But from there they allowed three unanswered goals.

"It's been extremely tough on me," captain Shawn Horcoff said of repeatedly missing out on the postseason. "We made some steps and at least this year we got some meaningful games in, gave ourselves a chance to get in, but it fell off as of late."

Cam Fowler, Kyle Palmieri and Corey Perry scored for Anaheim, with Perry's goal marking the third time this season he's scored in consecutive games.

It was also another strong performance for goalie Jonas Hiller, who stopped 27 shots. Hiller has a .925 save percentage over his last six starts while going 3-2-1, surrendering two or fewer goals five times.

"It's great to win again after what has been happening for the last little while," Hiller said. "We knew that we needed to play better, but sometimes it is not that easy. Tonight I think that everybody worked a little harder and that made the difference."

For the Oilers to avoid losing their 11th straight home game in the series, they'll likely have to be more disciplined. They've given up a power-play goal in six of eight games but the chances they've supplied opponents has been a bigger issue as they're averaging 9.3 penalty minutes per game over that span. Anaheim was 1 for 5 on the power play Sunday with Fowler scoring on the advantage.

Edmonton also received more discouraging injury news Sunday with the announcement that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will miss the rest of the season as he likely needs shoulder surgery. Forwards Ales Hemsky, Eric Belanger and Lennart Petrell are already likely to miss the remainder of the year.

Anaheim has won 13 of the teams' last 15 meetings.

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