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GAME: Chicago Blackhawks (18-30-8) at Anaheim Mighty Ducks (26-19-11).
TIME: Sunday, 8 p.m. EST.
The Olympic break may be coming up, but as far as the Anaheim Mighty Ducks are concerned, the playoffs have already started.
The Mighty Ducks look to make up some ground in the Western Conference race as they host the Chicago Blackhawks in the final game for both teams before the break.
The Mighty Ducks beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 on Friday for a split of their four-game road trip. Anaheim bounced back after a lackluster performance in a 3-1 loss two days earlier to the Calgary Flames.
The Mighty Ducks are in ninth place in the Western Conference, four points behind the Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers, who are tied for seventh.
"It's playoff hockey for us," said Andy McDonald, who five goals and 12 assists during a 10-game points streak. "We can't take any night off, it's such a tight race."
The Ducks won't have to worry about traveling again anytime soon. After the break, they play four in a row at home before hitting the road again on March 11 for the opener of a home-and-home series with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Joe DiPenta and Joffrey Lupul also scored Friday for the Ducks, who relaxed on an off-day in Vancouver before beating the Canucks.
"The day off yesterday helped," said McDonald. "We had a little bit of fun and it showed tonight. We were fresh on the ice and we had a little jump to us."
The Blackhawks lost for the fourth time in five games on Saturday, falling 5-4 to the Kings in overtime. Tyler Arnason and Martin Lapointe scored in the third period to force overtime.
Chicago lost when Craig Anderson gave up a power-play goal to Los Angeles defenseman Joe Corvo 40 seconds into the extra frame. Matthew Barnaby was serving a delay of game penalty called with 51 seconds to go in regulation.
"I didn't throw the puck hard at all," Barnaby said. "I was just trying to flip it out of the zone. I saw there was no defense there and I was just praying for the puck to stay in."
The Blackhawks, who are wrapping up a six-game road trip, are just 1-8-2 in their last 11 meetings with Anaheim.
STANDINGS: Blackhawks - 44 points, 4th place, 37 PB, Central Division. Mighty Ducks - 63 points, 3rd place, 16 PB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Blackhawks - Mark Bell, 19 goals; Arnason, 27 assists and 40 points; Matthew Barnaby, 140 PIM. Mighty Ducks - Teemu Selanne, 26 goals and 53 points; McDonald and Scott Niedermayer, 33 assists; Todd Fedoruk, 134 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Blackhawks - Power play: 13.1 percent (39 for 298), 30th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.0 percent (337 for 401), 9th. Mighty Ducks - Power play: 16.9 percent (56 for 332), 21st. Penalty killing: 83.8 percent (305 for 364), 10th.
GOALTENDERS: Blackhawks - Anderson (3-10-1, 3.67 GAA); Adam Munro (3-3-2, 1 SO, 2.73). Mighty Ducks - Jean-Sebastien Giguere (15-8-10, 2, 2.71); Ilya Bryzgalov (11-11-1, 1, 2.53).
SEASON SERIES: Mighty Ducks, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 27; Mighty Ducks, 3-1. At Anaheim, Calif., Selanne, Lupul and Rob Niedermeyer all scored in the third period for Anaheim. Bell tallied for Chicago.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blackhawks - 8-17-5 on the road; Mighty Ducks - 16-8-4 at home.
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