When the Anaheim Ducks travel to Minnesota, one of the NHL's hottest scorers could face one of the league's best goaltenders.
A five-game road trip for Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks (22-19-5) continues Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center against the Wild (22-18-3) and goalie Niklas Backstrom.
Getzlaf enters Saturday's game riding an eight-game points streak with three goals and nine assists in that span. Backstrom, meanwhile, has allowed nine goals in winning five of his last six starts.
The Minnesota goalie is among the league's leaders in goals-against average (2.16), save percentage (.927) and shutouts (five). Over the past six games, Backstrom has a 1.50 GAA, and he hasn't allowed more than three goals since a 6-5 loss to Colorado on Dec. 1 - a span of 15 starts.
Even an expiring contract hasn't bothered the All-Star, who is 1-1-0 lifetime versus Anaheim and has yielded four goals in those games.
"I want to focus on the team and do the best I can, and I've got an agent who takes care of the rest," he said. "It would be wrong about my team and my teammates if I would be selfish and start to think about that. I have to be out there every night and play the best I can."
While their goalie's play has been consistent, the Wild have also used a renewed offense to win consecutive games. Minnesota, which has averaged 2.51 goals per game this season, has scored 11 times in its last two contests.
Five different players scored in Thursday's 5-1 win over visiting Edmonton, and the Wild got goals from six different players in a 6-3 victory Tuesday over Phoenix. Only Cal Clutterbuck scored in both games.
"We're going at the net, and right now it's going our way," said Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who scored his first goal in 11 games Thursday. "So let's hope it's going to keep."
Getzlaf's play hasn't prevented the Ducks from losing four of their last five, including Friday's 3-1 defeat in Pittsburgh - the start of a seven-day, 7,342-mile journey for Anaheim.
The recently named All-Star starter, who leads his team with 54 points, scored his team-best 17th goal in the second period Friday, but the Ducks couldn't overcome an early two-goal deficit.
"It's a big road trip for us, we know the importance of it, and tonight not to come out with any points is disappointing," said defenseman Bret Hedican, whose team has dropped eight of its last 10 away from home.
Getzlaf has a goal and four assists in his last four meetings with the Wild, but has not scored on Backstrom, recording only two assists in a 3-2 win for Anaheim on Nov. 12, 2006.
Until Friday's game, the Ducks had scored at least two goals in seven straight games, but Anaheim has also allowed 17 goals in the past five games.
The Ducks have converted 13 of their last 46 power-play opportunities, but will face one of the league's best penalty kill units. Minnesota has allowed 18 power-play goals this season and one in its last 13 opponents' man advantages.
Anaheim has won two of the past three meetings, including a 4-2 victory on Dec. 14, but has gone 1-5-1 in its last seven trips to the Xcel Energy Center.
|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.|