By Kyle Shohara
After a five-day break from game action, the red-hot Ducks will play host to the visiting Phoenix Coyotes tonight at Honda Center (5 p.m. PT, KDOC, AM 830).
Leaders of the Pacific Division and one-point away from the league-leading Blackhawks, the Ducks (27-7-5, 59 points) enter tonight’s game on a franchise-best nine-game winning streak, including four straight on the road. During the streak, Anaheim has allowed two goals or less in eight of the nine wins. Anaheim’s standings point streak sits at 12 games, the league’s longest since Pittsburgh (15-0-0) last March.
Their opponent comes into Anaheim following a 4-3 shootout loss to San Jose last night at Jobing.com Arena. The point earned moved the Coyotes (19-10-8) into eighth place in the Western Conference with 46 points. The Coyotes are 3-3-4 in their last 10 games.
"We were up, we were down, we battled back, and when you get to the shootout anything can happen," said forward David Moss, who had a two-goal night. "We're playing a lot of close games and you'd like to get the two points, but we're right around it."
It’s been a road-heavy schedule thus far for the Ducks, and they’ll pack their bags for a game in San Jose tomorrow night, but the players said there’s nothing like being home.
“It’s good to have a home game after the Christmas break,” said Mathieu Perreault. “For myself, I think it’s much better to have a home game right after Christmas. It’s going to be good.”
Hampus Lindholm and his family enjoyed their first Christmas in Southern California, and the 19-year-old rookie defenseman said being home is always a good thing.
“We feel safe playing here at Honda Center,” he said. “We have a good home record and it’s great playing at home. With the nice weather, it just calms you down. It’s nice to be home.”
Perhaps the warm weather is a reason why Lindholm leads the league in plus/minus. In fact, five Ducks rank among the top six in plus/minus ratings this season, including Lindholm (+22) as the first rookie to lead the NHL in plus/minus through Christmas since Ottawa's Andrej Meszaros (+26) did so in 2005-06. Francois Beauchemin is second in the NHL with a +21 rating, while Dustin Penner is tied for third with a +20, and Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are tied for fifth with a +19.
PROTECT THIS HOUSE
The Ducks have gone 13-0-2 at Honda Center this season, marking the best home start in club history. Anaheim joins San Jose (20-0-2, 2008-09) as the only NHL teams to go through its first 15 home games without a regulation defeat (since implementation of shootouts in 2005-06). In addition, Anaheim is the only club in the NHL that has not lost in regulation at home this season. The Ducks have set a club record with eight straight home wins to open a season and was the last NHL team to lose at home in 2013-14 (Nov. 20 overtime loss vs. NJ).
At home, Anaheim has outscored the opposition, 56-26 (excluding two shootout goals). The Ducks' 56 goals are the third-most through 15 home games in club history (59 in 1995-96, 58 in 2006-07), while their 26 goals allowed are the fewest to start a season at home.
BEND BUT NEVER BREAK
In addition to being 16-3-4 when scoring the first goal, the Ducks are a league-best 11-4-1 when their opponent scores first. Only San Jose (9-6-1) is over .500 when allowing the first goal. Anaheim’s last five victories have all come with the opponent scoring first (5-0-0). In fact, the last NHL team to win five straight games after giving up the first goal was Minnesota, which won five such games from Nov. 28-Dec. 6, 2011 (Stats Inc.).
Anaheim and Phoenix play the fourth game of a five-game season series tonight at Honda Center. The Ducks are 3-0-0 vs. the Coyotes this season with Corey Perry scoring two of the three game-winning goals. Anaheim owns an all-time record of 60-32-16 vs. Phoenix, including a 34-15-7 mark at Honda Center. Following tonight's game, the season series will shift to Glendale for the finale on Jan. 11.
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