The Anaheim Ducks have been a much improved team with Scott Niedermayer in their lineup. Most of that success, however, has come at home.
The surging Ducks play 12 of their next 13 games on the road, a difficult stretch that begins Thursday night against the Nashville Predators.
A career high-tying three points from Niedermayer and another strong performance by goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere helped the Ducks (25-17-6) to their fourth straight win, 4-2 over visiting Dallas on Tuesday.
Rob Niedermayer, Samuel Pahlsson and George Parros all participated in the morning skate, though Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle indicated afterwards that Pahlsson and Parros are doubtful and Niedermayer is a "game-time decision." During the workout, Niedermayer skated with Travis Moen and Ryan Carter on the Ducks checking line.
Niedermayer had a goal and two assists, giving him 11 points in 14 games this season.
Anaheim is 10-2-2 since Niedermayer returned after contemplating retirement. He made his season debut against San Jose on Dec. 16, the same day veteran center Doug Weight played his first game with the Ducks following a trade with St. Louis.
"We've been playing better as of late, and all the experts are going to say it's because we got Scott Niedermayer back and we got Doug Weight here," center Todd Marchant said.
"Those two guys are not going to turn this ship around by themselves, but obviously they're a huge part of it. But having guys like that lifts everybody else's game to another level. You can see it. The list goes on and on about guys who have been able to lift their game. Right now, individual confidence is growing every day, and so is our team's confidence."
Tuesday's victory was the seventh straight at home for the Ducks, who have lost three straight (0-2-1) on the road, where they are 9-11-2 this season.
Anaheim visits Nashville, Minnesota and Dallas on its current three-game road trip before returning home to face Detroit on Jan. 23. After making the trip across town to play the rival Kings the next night, the Ducks return from the All-Star break with eight consecutive road games, starting Jan. 30 in Minnesota.
"It's a huge stretch for us," Giguere told the team's official Web site. "It's going to be very difficult. It's good that we have some kind of momentum going into the road. We're going to have to use that."
While Niedermayer has received most of the credit, several other players have also made key contributions lately for the defending champions.
Giguere is 8-1-1 with two shutouts and a 1.69 goals-against average in his last 10 starts. All-Star center Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and an assist Tuesday, and has five goals and 10 assists during a career-best 11-game point streak.
Right wing Todd Bertuzzi appears to have regained his scoring touch, tallying three goals and five assists during a four-game point streak.
Chris Mason recorded his third shutout of the season, and J.P. Dumont remained hot with a goal and an assist in Nashville's 3-0 victory over Calgary on Tuesday.
Martin Erat and Ville Koistinen also scored for the Predators (22-19-4), who have points in seven of their last eight games (5-1-2).
Dumont has seven goals and seven assists during a career-high nine-game point streak. He also has multiple points in five of his last seven contests.
"Earlier on this year he was watching a majority of the game," coach Barry Trotz said of Dumont. "Now he is more involved and because of that, he's getting extra pucks."
The Ducks are 2-1-0 this season against the Predators, losing 4-2 at Nashville on Dec. 8. Anaheim is 7-2-1 in the past 10 meetings.
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