EDMONTON, Alberta -- Jeered and cursed at by Oilers fans all night long, Chris Pronger never took his eyes off the ice. He simply played his steady game, assisted on a key goal and helped the Anaheim Ducks rally past his former team.
Ryan Getzlaf scored 2:19 into overtime after teammate Chris Kunitz tied the score with 17 seconds left in the third period, and Anaheim beat the Oilers 3-2 Tuesday night in Pronger's return to Edmonton.
Pronger, who led the Oilers to the Stanley Cup finals last season and then asked to be traded, was booed every time he touched the puck. He assisted on Teemu Selanne's power-play goal in the second period.
"Obviously, you've got to expect the worst. It was respectful, I think," Pronger said. "It's always nice to win when you come back and play a team you used to play for."
The Oilers appeared to have this one in hand, too, but the Ducks pulled goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere for an extra attacker and scored late in the third. Kunitz grabbed the puck from a goalmouth scramble and backhanded it past Dwayne Roloson.
"It looked inevitable that they would get the goal. We played basically the whole third period in our own zone," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said in a quiet dressing room. "We got basically what we deserved."
Pronger knew the tying goal was coming, too.
"We were coming on and they were going backwards," he said.
It was the second time this season the Oilers lost to Anaheim. Pronger had three assists in the previous matchup, a 6-2 Ducks victory on Oct. 25.
Reasoner opened the scoring almost eight minutes into the first period. After linemate Raffi Torres dug the puck out of the corner, Reasoner fired a wrist shot from a bad angle over Giguere's shoulder.
Edmonton made it 2-0 early in the second when Smyth dug the puck out from behind the net and threw it out front to Fernando Pisani, who backhanded it along the ice through a thicket of players, off Smyth's skate and past Giguere.
"We did all the right things to win the hockey game but weren't able to finish it off," Roloson said.
When the anti-Pronger boos began to trail off midway through the second period, it was Pronger who reignited them. With the Ducks on a power play, he fired a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle that Selanne, standing at the crease, tipped past Roloson to make it 2-1.
"We knew it would be a bit difficult for him coming back in here and we wanted to support him as much as we could," said Anaheim captain Scott Niedermayer, who played in his 1,000th NHL game and got a rousing cheer when the milestone was announced.
Pronger, the 2000 NHL MVP with St. Louis, shocked Edmonton in June when he asked for a trade but refused to publicly say why. Many fans felt betrayed by the 6-foot-6, 220-pound defenseman, the driving force behind an Oilers team that came within one game of winning the Stanley Cup last spring.
Fans in Oilers jerseys and garish blue wigs booed him when he touched the puck in pregame warmups, rising up to flash homemade signs.
"Tell the Truth, Chris," read one.
"The Gap in Your Story is Bigger Than the Gap in Your Teeth."
"Chris: 1985 Phoned; They Want Their Hair Back."
During the game, fans serenaded Pronger with chants of "You Sold Out!" along with a mournful, drawn-out "Prawwwwnnnngerrr!"
The 32-year-old Pronger didn't appear fazed and never looked beyond the ice surface. He had been the talk of the city for almost a week before the return trip.
"He thrives on this type of atmosphere," Roloson said. "When you have played as well as he has over the past, teams hate you and they want to come out and play hard on you, and the fans want to nail you, too."
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Pronger reiterated that his reason for wanting to leave Edmonton would stay personal. He said he understood if Oilers fans wanted to vent.
"They're passionate about their team and they can't understand why I'm not here," he said.
Pronger has been a standout for the Ducks. He leads NHL defensemen with 27 points (four goals, 23 assists). His plus-16 rating is second only to the plus-23 of Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom.
|Ryan Getzlaf beats Dwayne Roloson as the Ducks stay perfect vs. the Oilers this season. (AP)|
|Anaheim (18-2-6) «||0||1||1||1||3|
Save Pct.: .885
|07:38||Marty Reasoner (4), Wrist Shot - Assist: Raffi Torres|
|05:25||Ryan Smyth (14), Backhand Shot - Assists: Fernando Pisani, Jason Smith|
|12:03||Power Play - Teemu Selanne (12), Tip-In - Assists: Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer|
|19:43||Chris Kunitz (14), Wrist Shot - Assists: Todd Marchant, Teemu Selanne|
|02:19||Ryan Getzlaf (10), Slap Shot - Unassisted.|
|08:37||Moen: Holding - 2 min.|
|13:23||Bergeron: Hooking - 2 min.|
|16:08||Niedermayer: Interference with goal tender. - 2 min.|
|20:00||Kunitz: Hooking - 2 min.|
|09:08||O'Donnell: Fighting - 5 min.|
|09:08||Winchester: Fighting - 5 min.|
|11:28||O'Brien: Fighting - 5 min.|
|11:28||Greene: Fighting - 5 min.|
|11:56||Pisani: Hooking - 2 min.|
|11:06||Smyth: Hooking - 2 min.|
|13:48||Marchant: Holding - 2 min.|
|SHOTS ON GOAL|
|Attendance - 16839|
|Game Time - 62:19|
|Referees - Brad Meier, Justin St. Pierre|
|Line Judges - Darren Gibbs, Lyle Seitz|