Playing at home has given the Anaheim Ducks a significant advantage over their opponents in 2007-08. They're hoping that success will help them avoid losing the season series against one of the NHL's weakest teams.
The Ducks, though, will be without star defenseman Chris Pronger as they try to win their ninth straight at the Honda Center and extend the St. Louis Blues' woes when the teams meet on Saturday night.
Pronger, fourth on the Ducks with 43 points, was suspended eight games by the NHL on Saturday for stomping on the leg of Vancouver's Ryan Kesler in a 4-1 Anaheim win on Wednesday. It's the eighth career suspension for Pronger, who will not be eligible to return until the Ducks' regular-season finale against Phoenix on April 6.
The former Hart Trophy winner is pointless in his last five games, but his absence clearly will make it significantly tougher for Anaheim to stay in the Pacific Division title race. The Ducks are four points behind division-leading San Jose, though they are fifth overall in the Western Conference.
Anaheim (40-25-8), which is 24-8-4 at home this season, needs two more home wins to match its total from last season when it won the Stanley Cup. Only Detroit, which welcomes in Nashville on Saturday afternoon, has more home victories (25) this season.
The Ducks have won just two of their last five overall, but both victories came at home. The most recent win came Wednesday against Vancouver, extending Anaheim's franchise-record home win streak to eight games.
Todd Marchant and Travis Moen each had a goal and an assist in that victory.
"This team has always played well at home, and to keep that going is great," Moen told the Ducks' official Web site. "It seems like we always come out to good starts lately in our barn."
The Ducks have outscored teams 27-12 during their record run, and haven't allowed more than one goal in four consecutive contests and five of their last six at home. They have also killed off all but three of their opponents' 36 power-play chances in that stretch.
"This team tries to take that same philosophy of as a group and as individuals to not get too high or too low," Marchant said. "As we know these points are all crucial, not only for us, but for all the other teams."
The Ducks now look to take advantage of St. Louis (29-31-11), which owns the second-worst record in the West and likely will miss the playoffs for the third straight season.
Anaheim is 12-7-3 with a tie against the Blues since 2001-02, winning seven of 11 at home. The Blues, though, have taken two of three against the Ducks and seek to win the season series for the first time since going 2-1-0 with a tie in 2003-04.
The Ducks' Jean-Sebastien Giguere has been in net for all three meetings with the Blues this season, going 1-1-1 with a shutout and a 1.30 goals-against average.
Giguere is also 6-0-0 with a 1.32 GAA in his last six home starts. He is also 7-2-0 with a tie and a shutout and a 2.09 GAA in 10 career games against the Blues in Anaheim.
St. Louis has dropped a season-high nine consecutive contests on the road - its longest such skid since going 0-7-3 from Dec. 29, 2005-Feb. 1, 2006.
The Blues are coming off a 4-1 loss at San Jose on Friday. David Backes scored for St. Louis, which dropped to 1-9-2 since Feb. 21.
"That's one of the best teams in the NHL," said St. Louis' Hannu Toivonen, who allowed four first-period goals and finished with 23 saves. "We have to find a way to play like that and then maybe we'll win games."
After getting a night off, Manny Legace should be back in goal for St. Louis. Legace is 2-0-1 with a shutout and a 1.29 GAA in three meetings this season, and 10-1-1 with a tie, a shutout and a 1.83 GAA in 16 all-time appearances against the Ducks.
This is the sixth stop on St. Louis' season-high nine-game road swing.
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