DUCKS (36-8-5) at BLACKHAWKS (30-8-11)
TV: NHLN-US, NHLN-CA, RDS; FS-W, CSN-CH+
Last 10: Anaheim 9-1-0; Chicago 4-1-5
Season series: Anaheim and Chicago play the second of a three-game season series tonight at the United Center. The Ducks have won five straight over the Blackhawks, including three consecutive in Chicago. Anaheim is 43-26-9 all-time vs. Chicago, including 20-16-5 in Illinois. The season series will conclude Feb. 5 at Honda Center.
Big story: The NHL-leading Ducks open a two-game road trip against Chicago tonight at the United Center (5 p.m. PST, FS West/AM 830). The Ducks have won 18 of 19 games (18-1-0) to become the second team in NHL history to win 18+ games in an 19-game span. The team is 10-0-0 at Honda Center and 9-1-0 on the road during the stretch, including a league-best eight-game active win streak overall.
Coupled with a 10-game streak from Dec. 6-28, Anaheim now owns the two longest win streaks in the NHL this season. The club has three win streaks of seven-or-more games, marking the first team to do so since the Detroit Red Wings in 2007-08. Anaheim also has 10 comeback wins in the last 19 games, four of those from two-goal deficits. The Ducks, who have points in 21 of 22 games (19-1-2), are 13-1-2 vs. the Pacific Division and a league-best 20-3-2 (.840 points %) vs. the Western Conference. At 36-8-5 for 75 points, Anaheim is riding its best start to a season through 49 games, besting the previous mark of 30-11-8 for 68 points in 2006-07. The Ducks have also scored the most goals (168) and allowed the fewest (116) through 49 games in club history.
In January, Anaheim is averaging a league-best 4.71 goals-per-game (33 goals in seven games). No other team is above four goals-per-game this month.
Ducks: The eight-game winning streak that Anaheim brings to Chicago is longer than any other team has managed this season, but it's not the longest for the Ducks, who won 10 in a row before a 3-1 road loss to the San Jose Sharks on Dec. 29. Anaheim has won all eight games since then to join the 1967-68 Montreal Canadiens as the only teams in NHL history to win 18 of 19 games.
One secret to the Ducks' success has been an abundance of secondary scoring. Thirteen players hit the scoresheet in the rout of the Canucks, and opponents are finding that shutting down Anaheim's top line doesn't guarantee a victory.
"We have a lot of depth guys, and guys who come in the lineup," said center Andrew Cogliano, whose goal Wednesday was his 16th of the season. "It seems like we have 14 guys who switch every night who can provide offense. It's pretty impressive we're getting a lot of depth scoring.
Blackhawks: Chicago may be the defending Stanley Cup champion, but no one at the Blackhawks' practice Thursday was downplaying the importance of the game against a team they've struggled to beat and are looking up at in the standings.
"Anaheim is the team to beat right now," defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "They have been dominating so far this season. They got a lot of offensive skill. We got to play a real [good] defensive game if we're going to beat them."
Coach Joel Quenneville feels the Ducks' depth makes them especially hard to beat.
"It's a great test for us, a good measuring stick," he said. "They're on a great run here. Commend them on how they're playing. But game in, game out, they're a hard team to play against. They got a lot of guys contributing, and everyone is a part of it."
Who's hot: Ducks forward Corey Perry had two goals and two assists against Vancouver, giving him nine points (four goals) in his past five games. Goaltender Jonas Hiller has won his past 14 decisions. … Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa has two goals and two assists in his past three games. Andrew Shaw has scored a goal in back-to-back games.
Injury report: Hiller (illness) didn't play Wednesday. The Ducks are also without backup goaltender Viktor Fasth (lower body) and defensemen Luca Sbisa (hand) and Sheldon Souray (wrist). Defenseman Bryan Allen (foot) is questionable. Blackhawks backup goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin (shoulder surgery) is out for the season.
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