TIME: Friday, 10:30 p.m. EST.
Paul Kariya returns to Anaheim for the first time since leaving as a free agent in the offseason as the Colorado Avalanche visit the reeling Mighty Ducks.
Having Kariya back at the Arrowhead Pond could be a bitter reminder of the last-place Mighty Ducks' Stanley Cup appearance just seven months ago, and almost a decade of memories of one the league's best players.
Kariya, Anaheim's career leader in goals and assists, spent nine seasons with the Ducks before signing with Colorado in the offseason.
This is the teams' fourth meeting this season, though Kariya missed the first two due to a sprained right wrist. In his first game against his former team, Kariya scored a second-period goal in Colorado's 3-1 victory at home Jan. 13.
"It was different for sure," Kariya said. "You don't spend nine years playing with guys and not feel different. Going against them was a strange experience. But once the game starts and you play a couple of shifts, it's hockey as usual."
This is Kariya's first game in Anaheim since Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals when he left the game after a thunderous hit from New Jersey's Scott Stevens, but returned in the second period to score his first goal of the finals. Anaheim won the game 5-2 to force Game 7, which the Devils won.
Including Wednesday's 4-3 loss in overtime to Los Angeles, the Mighty Ducks are 2-7-4-1 this month, leaving them a season-worst seven games below .500.
Steve Rucchin ended his 10-game scoring drought with a pair of goals against the Kings. However, he wasn't satisfied because the Ducks lost.
"It's frustrating, for sure. It's our fault," the Anaheim center said. "We're continuing to shoot ourselves in the foot.
Colorado, meanwhile, is looking to extend its unbeaten streak to a season-high seven games after a 3-3 tie with the Kings on Thursday. Milan Hejduk and Alex Tanguay each had a goal and an assist, and Travis Brigley also scored for the Avalanche, who squandered a two goal lead.
Colorado is 4-0-2 in its last six games, and 12-1-2 in its last 15.
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