The Anaheim Ducks caught a lucky break in their last game against the Phoenix Coyotes. They don't expect any favors in the Pacific Division rivals' second meeting in four days.
The Ducks look to continue their push for the playoffs with their third straight win Sunday night when they host the Coyotes, who seem determined to bounce back after a disheartening defeat in the teams' last meeting.
Anaheim (34-31-6) is tied with three other teams for 10th place in the Western Conference with 74 points, three fewer than Nashville, which currently occupies the eighth and final playoff spot.
The Ducks' playoff push got some help Thursday night in Arizona, where Coyotes forward Kyle Turris deflected the puck into his own net with 7:01 to play, giving Anaheim a 2-1 lead. Though the Coyotes tied it later, the Ducks went on to win on Bobby Ryan's goal in the fifth round of the shootout.
"We were sure lucky about those two points," Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller said. "It wasn't pretty, but those are the kinds of things we need right now, just find a way to win."
Anaheim has won consecutive games for the first time since Feb. 21 and 24. It hasn't had a longer winning streak since reeling off four straight from Nov. 22-30.
Extending the current run could be a challenge, however, against a Coyotes team that bounced back from its disappointing home loss to Anaheim by clobbering Vancouver 5-1 on Saturday night.
Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 34 shots and Shane Doan scored his 27th goal in Phoenix's highest-scoring game since beating Los Angeles 6-3 on Feb. 21. The four-goal margin was the largest for Phoenix (30-35-7) this season.
"After recent games, we were pretty disgusted with ourselves," Doan said. "It was apparent we made sure that we do not embarrass ourselves."
Phoenix has gone 2-0-1 over its last three games, but remains way back in the playoff race with 67 points, good for 14th place. Its recent play against Anaheim hasn't helped much. After winning the teams' first meeting 4-2 on Oct. 12, the Coyotes have been outscored 11-5 in going 0-2-1 against the Ducks.
That's largely due to Hiller, who's 5-0-1 with a 1.76 goals-against average in six career starts against the Coyotes - his most against any team.
"I can't explain why," the second-year keeper said. "I have faced them a lot, so that makes it probably a little easier. I know what they do, either if it's on the power play or what they try to do in our zone. I'm happy that it goes that well."
Anaheim's other goalie, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, is 0-1-3 with a 2.77 GAA in his last four games against the Coyotes.
Regardless of who starts in net, the Ducks are fully aware of the impact this game could have on their postseason chances.
"We know we have to be ready again on Sunday," Hiller said. "That is a must-win to stay in the race for the playoffs. Everybody knows it in here. We want those two points."
These teams meet again in both clubs' regular-season finale April 11 in Phoenix.
|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.|