ANAHEIM - Asking Viktor Fasth if he was excited to be playing his old team is a little like asking the guy who hasn’t eaten in a week if he’s 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.
“I think the first period was a little rusty, but I kind of got into the game the longer it went,” said Fasth, after his latest return to action. “But I have to do better for us to win. It was a tough loss.”
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 Beauchemin’s long slapper eluded Fasth with 1:21 left on the clock.
“The third one, I should have that,” he said, refusing to blame it on rust. “I don’t want to think that it’s so. It might be, but I have to have that goal, it doesn’t matter.”
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 he’d 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 didn’t play an NHL game between November 13 and when he made his first start with the Oilers March 11. He didn’t even have the rust scraped off when he got run over in practice and had to sit out another week with a neck injury.
“It’s been a tough year,” said the 31-year-old Swede, acquired from Anaheim for a fifth round pick in 2014 and third rounder in 2015. “I’ve been battling some injuries, getting back and forth on the ice. Came back and got injured again, like, two times. But now I’m finally... my body feels good, it feels great. It’s good to be back on the ice again on a regular basis.”
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.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, isn’t that what they say? It’s tough when you’re not able to play. You never miss hockey as much as when you’re not able to play. When you’re out, that’s the toughest apart. You’ve gotta remember that when you’re playing, you have to appreciate the game.
“This season hasn’t been what I expected it to be but that’s all history now. You have to look forward and do something good here again.
“For me, personally, it’s about ending the season on a high note. You don’t want to go into pre-season with bad memories from the season before, It’s important to get a couple of games and feel good about it.”