With 11 games still to play, the Anaheim Ducks are already closing in on the best season in franchise history.
They'll look to match the team record for points they set last season when they host the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.
Anaheim earned 98 points in 2005-06, and advanced to the Western Conference finals, where it lost in five games to Edmonton. The Ducks' previous record for points came in 2002-03, when they picked up 95 before falling in seven games to New Jersey in the Stanley Cup finals.
This season, the Ducks (42-17-12) are tied with Buffalo for the third-best record in the NHL and own a seven-point lead in the Pacific Division. They had won five straight before Wednesday's 5-4 shootout loss to Columbus.
Anaheim has still picked up points in each of its last nine games, going 7-0-2 with an overtime loss over that span.
"The fact that we got a point is a very positive thing," goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere said after he made 23 saves in regulation and overtime Wednesday. "This means we can sometimes play a bad game and have some kind of positive outcome.
"But we can't really accept the kind of effort we gave. Obviously, I don't think we can be happy with our defensive game. We gave them too many scoring chances."
Defenseman Francois Beauchemin had two goals against the Blue Jackets, and Chris Kunitz scored with just under two minutes left in regulation to earn Anaheim a point. The defeat ended a six-game home winning streak.
The Ducks were 1-for-7 on the penalty kill after holding opponents without a power-play goal (0-for-20) in their previous five games. They also failed to score with the man advantage after going 5-for-15 on the power play in their previous three contests.
"We turned the puck over too many times and messed up some plays," Beauchemin said. "We've got to find a way to stay focused in every game for 60 minutes. It wasn't that good of a game for us, but we still got a point out of it."
The Blackhawks have won four of their last five games, including Thursday's 4-3 shootout victory in Los Angeles. Tuomo Ruutu scored the tying goal in the third period and Nikita Alexeev, who scored in the first period, added the deciding goal in the seventh round of the shootout.
"Alexeev and (Denis) Arkhipov played a heck of a game for us," coach Denis Savard said. "Overall I'm pleased with everybody. It's tough to win on the road."
The game was the third on Chicago's five-game road trip. The Blackhawks, who own the worst power-play in the league, went scoreless with the man advantage for the second straight game after going 3-for-8 in their previous two contests.
Chicago won 4-3 in a shootout at Anaheim on Nov. 17 in the last meeting between the teams, ending a seven-game losing streak in the series. The Ducks, who have not lost in regulation to the Blackhawks since a 3-1 road defeat on Nov. 2, 2003, are 11-1-1 with one tie in the last 14 meetings.
|AnaheimDucks.com is the official Web site of the Anaheim Ducks. Anaheim Ducks and AnaheimDucks.com are trademarks of Anaheim Ducks Hockey Club, LLC. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2013 Anaheim Ducks Hockey Club, LLC and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.|