HURRICANES (26-25-9) at DUCKS (42-14-5)
TV: FS-CR, PRIME
Last 10: Carolina 4-6-0; Anaheim 5-5-0
Season series: Anaheim and Carolina conclude a two-game season series tonight at Honda Center. These two teams first met on Nov. 15 at PNC Arena, a 3-2 shootout loss for the Ducks.
The Ducks have won two straight home games against the Hurricanes dating to Nov. 25, 2009 and own a 12-12-3 all-time record vs. tonight's opponent (7-5-1 in Anaheim). Saku Koivu paces Anaheim skaters with 27 points (9g/18a) in 46 career games vs. Carolina.
Big story: The league-leading Ducks (42-14-5, 89 points) host the Carolina Hurricanes in the second of a season-tying five-game homestand tonight at Honda Center (5 p.m. PST, PRIME TICKET/AM 830). Anaheim is riding its best start to a season through 61 games, improving upon its previous mark of 35-16-10 for 80 points in 2006-07. This is the deepest into a season that the Ducks have ever led the league in points (previously 48 games, 2006-07).
Anaheim also has the best home (23-5-2) and road (19-9-3) records, has scored the most goals (195) and allowed the fewest (143) at this stage of the season in club history. Ranked second in the NHL in goals scored, Anaheim is also tied with St. Louis for second among NHL teams in goals-per-game average (3.20). The team has gone 14-6-0 in the last 20 games and 24-7-0 in the last 31, including a 13-5-0 mark at Honda Center and 11-2-0 road record.
Against the Pacific Division, the Ducks are 15-1-2 and a league-best 25-8-2 (.742 points %) vs. the Western Conference. Anaheim won 18 of 19 games (18-1-0) from Dec. 6-Jan. 15 to join Montreal (18-1-0, 1967-68) as the only two NHL teams to win 18+ games in a 19-game span.
Following tonight's game, the Ducks will host Montreal (Mar. 5), Pittsburgh (Mar. 7) and Toronto (Mar. 10) as part of the current homestand. Six of Anaheim's seven opponents at Honda Center this month hail from the Eastern Conference. The lone exception is Winnipeg on Mar. 31.
Ducks: As coach Bruce Boudreau had feared, the Ducks looked rusty in their first game in 20 days. But Andrew Cogliano scored a first-period goal and Anaheim made it stand up. Jonas Hiller stopped 18 shots, but got plenty of help; his teammates made 27 blocks and the Blues missed the target 30 times.
But that came against a team the Blues are battling for the top spot in the Western Conference and the overall NHL standings. Defenseman Cam Fowler said Anaheim can't look past struggling Carolina.
"We have to be ready because they have a lot of skill over there," he said. "They're a team that works hard and relies on their scoring and goaltending. It's going to be a good game. We're looking to not have a letdown against this team. It's going to be an important game for us."
Hurricanes: Carolina's offense has gone cold after the break. The Hurricanes have scored four goals in the three defeats and are coming off a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday in which they generated little offense. Part of the problem is that Carolina is spending a lot of time killing penalties; the Hurricanes' penalty-killers were 7-for-7 in a 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Thursday and killed off five in a row in Los Angeles before the Kings scored the go-ahead goal on the sixth try.
"That was pretty much the difference in the game," coach Kirk Muller said. "I thought our guys played hard, but if you're going to give six or seven power plays to the other team, eventually it's going to hurt you.
"Two things: We didn't stay out of the box and it cost us and we didn't capitalize when we had some good scoring chances."
Who's hot: Hiller has won his past two starts, allowing two goals on 56 shots. ... Hurricanes defenseman Andrej Sekera scored his career-best 10th goal in the loss to the Kings and has points in all three games since the break.
Injury report: Ducks center Mathieu Perreault (upper body) left the game Friday. He didn't practice Saturday, and Boudreau said he's unlikely to play. ... Hurricanes forward Alexander Semin (lower body) missed the game in L.A.
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