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The Anaheim Ducks will be bringing extra reinforcements with them as they begin the second half of their season with eight straight road games.
It's unlikely Teemu Selanne will play Wednesday when the Ducks visit the Minnesota Wild, but Anaheim will hope to end a three-game slide knowing that help is on the way.
Selanne, the Ducks' leading scorer with 48 goals and 94 points as they won the Stanley Cup last season, announced on Monday that he'll return to the team after he had contemplated retirement. He practiced for the first time this week, and plans to return at some point during the trip.
"It was a pretty hard practice. I almost forgot how tough it is," Selanne said. "I really feel this is a good time to come back and go on the road with my teammates. (The trip) gives a little more privacy and the ability to get together with new teammates and get back into action."
The Ducks (27-20-6) have already lost as many regulation games as they did all of last season, when they finished 48-20-14. But they're 12-5-2 since Scott Niedermayer came back from his brief retirement, despite dropping their last three games before the All-Star break.
The last of those losses was 3-1 at last-place Los Angeles on Thursday - the second straight one-goal effort for Anaheim, which has been outscored 10-4 over the skid.
The Ducks had gone 8-0-1 over their previous nine games, and Ryan Getzlaf had at least one point in 15 straight games before Thursday's loss.
"We haven't played as good as we could the last three games and at this time of the year that's unacceptable," goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere said. "That could mean not the right coverage or it can mean not making the key save at the right time or not scoring any goals."
Anaheim, 11-13-2 on the road this season, doesn't play at home until Feb. 15.
The Wild (28-19-3) have won two of three and went 5-2-1 in their last eight games before the break, taking over first place in the Northwest Division. They closed the first half of the season with a 3-2 win at Colorado, improving to 20-0-0 when leading after two periods.
"We should try to do that more often," said goalie Niklas Backstrom, who made 28 saves. "We play with confidence when we're up."
Backstrom and Josh Harding alternated starts for the six games prior to the break, but Backstrom has gone 2-0-1 with a 2.00 goals-against average in his last three games. He hasn't faced the Ducks this season.
Harding has played all three games against Anaheim, going 2-1-0 with one shutout and a 2.00 GAA. The Ducks' lone win was 4-2 in their only visit to the Xcel Energy Center on Jan. 18, as Todd Bertuzzi had two goals and an assist.
Anaheim beat the Wild 4-1 in the first round of last season's playoffs.
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