Although the Edmonton Oilers are all but certain to finish as the NHL's worst team, they've won three straight as they attempt to regain some confidence going into the offseason.
It's looking more and more like the Anaheim Ducks' summer will also begin early.
With their playoff chances slipping away, the Ducks may be without leading scorer Ryan Getzlaf as they try to salvage the finale of a western Canadian road trip Friday night in Edmonton.
Anaheim (34-31-8) won the Stanley Cup in 2007 and reached its fourth straight postseason last spring, but that streak seems primed to end despite a blend of emerging stars like Getzlaf and Corey Perry and veterans such as Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne.
After opening their trip with losses at Calgary and Vancouver on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Ducks trail eighth-place Detroit by 11 points with nine games remaining.
They were outscored 7-2 in the two defeats, never recovering from an early deficit in a 4-1 loss to the Canucks.
"We put ourselves in a tough spot by the way we played early in the season and our room for error is minimal," Niedermayer said, referring to the team's 10-13-6 start. "So it's frustrating when you don't get points when you need them."
The road may be even tougher for Anaheim after Getzlaf, the team leader with 69 points, reinjured his ankle in Vancouver. He was limited to two shifts after Vancouver's Henrik Sedin fell on the ankle during the second period.
"When it gets aggravated the way it did (Wednesday), there's nothing a whole lot we could do to settle it down so I could go back out there," Getzlaf said.
Getzlaf originally sprained the ankle last month, but in the final game before the Olympic break, he answered concerns about the injury and his ability to play for Team Canada by notching two goals and two assists in a 7-3 win at Edmonton on Feb. 14.
The Oilers (24-42-7) have been much better at home since the break, winning five of six at Rexall Place this month. They can complete a perfect four-game homestand by beating the Ducks.
Edmonton scored twice in the first seven minutes and never relinquished the lead in a 3-2 win over the Canucks on Tuesday night, as Jeff Deslauriers made 31 saves while fellow goalie Devan Dubnyk dealt with flulike symptoms.
"He was really sharp ... and confident and in mental control," Edmonton coach Pat Quinn said of Deslauriers, who gave up all seven goals against Anaheim last month. "Our guys battled hard all night long and I like how they played around him."
Another positive for the Oilers was the play of defenseman Ryan Whitney, who led the team in ice time and was a plus-two, making him plus-six in the last three games.
This will be the first game between the teams since the Ducks traded Whitney and a draft pick to Edmonton for defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky on March 3.