The Ducks have started playing like defending Stanley Cup champions over the last month, but they've still got to prove they can win consistently on the road. A 2-1 victory in Nashville last night. Now the challenge lies in a visit to Minnesota less than 24 hours later.
The red-hot Ducks (26-17-6) look to win their sixth straight while earning a point in their ninth straight game on Friday night when they meet the Wild at the Xcel Energy Center, where they last won in the regular season exactly five years ago.
Anaheim, 7-0-1 in its last eight games, hasn't lost in regulation since the start of the new year and has outscored its opponents 26-12 in that span.
The Ducks' first six wins during their run came at home, where Anaheim owns a 16-6-4 record to rank among the league's best. But the Ducks are 10-11-2 on the road and had lost three straight prior to their win at Nashville.
The Ducks were outshot 34-16, including 15-3 in the third period.
"This wasn't our best game, but at the end of the day all that matters is the two points," said goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Regular-season trips to Minnesota haven't been pleasant for Anaheim, which notched its last regular-season victory there on Jan. 18, 2003.
A pair of budding stars have led been leading the Ducks offense. Corey Perry, their leading scorer with 24 goals, has four and four assists over his last five games, and his linemate, Ryan Getzlaf, has been on an even better tear.
Getzlaf, who leads Anaheim with 51 points, is currently riding a 12-game point streak, during which he's amassed five goals and 12 assists.
Giguere also has been stellar during the Ducks' streak, going 9-1-1 with a 1.63 goals-against average. He's been aided by the return of Conn Smythe Trophy-winning defenseman Scott Niedermeyer, who since opting to delay retirement and rejoin the team on Dec. 16, has contributed two goals and nine assists as Anaheim has gone 11-2-2.
Giguere, meanwhile, is 8-8-2 with two ties and a 2.14 GAA in his career against the Wild.
Minnesota (26-17-3) has earned at least a point in four straight games, but had its three-game winning streak snapped with a 3-2 shootout loss to Calgary on Wednesday.
Goaltender Josh Harding had started during the Wild's three wins, but tweaked his groin prior to the game against the Flames, forcing Niklas Backstrom to start.
"It wasn't easy, but you can't think too much about that," said Backstrom, who is 16-9-2 with a 2.56 GAA, but had struggled recently. "You need to step up and try to help the team, be there for the team when they need you. You can't hide behind that or find excuses. You have to go out there and play your best."
Harding's status is unclear for this game - he's 2-0-0 against the Ducks this season with a 1.00 GAA. Backstrom lost his only career start against the Anaheim in December 2006.
The Wild are in the middle of the pack in scoring, but when they need a goal, Marian Gaborik has usually stepped up. Gaborik has four goals and five assists in his last four, and leads Minnesota with 25 goals and 49 points.
Gaborik has six goals and six assists in 20 career games against the Ducks.
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