ANAHEIM - Asking Viktor Fasth if he was excited to be playing his old team is a little like asking the guy who hasnít eaten in a week if heís excited that the steak in front of him is Alberta beef.
Shut up and gimme a fork.
Sure, playing the Ducks is cool, but after being tormented by injuries for the last six months, and essentially losing his Anaheim job and being forced to start over because of it, Fasth is excited to be playing anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Although he admits the way it ended, with three third period goals against in a 3-2 defeat, including a Francois Beauchemin game winner that he should have had, leaves a bad aftertaste.
ďI think the first period was a little rusty, but I kind of got into the game the longer it went,Ē said Fasth, after his latest return to action. ďBut I have to do better for us to win. It was a tough loss.Ē
Edmonton had a 2-0 lead on goals from Philip Larsen late in the second and Jordan Eberle early in the third, but the Ducks, who came back from 4-0 against Winnipeg in their last game, scored three straight to hand the Oilers their second heart-breaking defeat in as many days.
Corey Perry cut it to 2-1 at 3:28 and squared it on a great deflection at 11:25 before Beaucheminís long slapper eluded Fasth with 1:21 left on the clock.
ďThe third one, I should have that,Ē he said, refusing to blame it on rust. ďI donít want to think that itís so. It might be, but I have to have that goal, it doesnít matter.Ē
It was a tough finish to a great start for Fasth, who is trying to put the exact opposite spin on his season.
After starting his NHL career with eight straight wins en route to an 11-1-1 start last year, Fasth sort of thought heíd be starting, or at least challenging for the No.1 spot in Anaheim instead of backing up in Edmonton, but the last few months have dipped on him like a nasty shot from outside the blueline.
Five games into this season he was out with a lower body injury and didnít play an NHL game between November 13 and when he made his first start with the Oilers March 11. He didnít even have the rust scraped off when he got run over in practice and had to sit out another week with a neck injury.
ďItís been a tough year,Ē said the 31-year-old Swede, acquired from Anaheim for a fifth round pick in 2014 and third rounder in 2015. ďIíve been battling some injuries, getting back and forth on the ice. Came back and got injured again, like, two times. But now Iím finally... my body feels good, it feels great. Itís good to be back on the ice again on a regular basis.Ē
Between the injuries and the trade from Anaheim to Edmonton, where he has to start all over again, the last several months have been a real test.
ďWhat doesnít kill you makes you stronger, isnít that what they say? Itís tough when youíre not able to play. You never miss hockey as much as when youíre not able to play. When youíre out, thatís the toughest apart. Youíve gotta remember that when youíre playing, you have to appreciate the game.
ďThis season hasnít been what I expected it to be but thatís all history now. You have to look forward and do something good here again.
ďFor me, personally, itís about ending the season on a high note. You donít want to go into pre-season with bad memories from the season before, Itís important to get a couple of games and feel good about it.Ē