Ducks vs. Wild
Tuesday, 12.29.2009 / 4:00 PM
WILD (20-16-3) at DUCKS (15-16-7)
: Minnesota 7-3-0; Anaheim 5-3-2.
: This is the last of four meetings between the teams. Minnesota leads the series, 2-1, including a 5-4 shootout victory on Dec. 4 at Xcel Energy Center.
: After a rocky start, a phenomenal December has the Wild back in playoff contention. Minnesota tied a franchise record on Monday night in Los Angeles with its 10th victory of the month. The Wild, who have won three straight, are now just three points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
: The biggest reason for Minnesota's resurgence has been the fact that it seems to have a different hero every night, and Monday was no different. Eric Belanger scored twice in Los Angeles, including the go-ahead goal with 2:25 remaining in a 4-3 victory against the Kings. Belanger's tally came just 12 seconds after Los Angeles roared back from a 3-1 deficit.
"They came hard … it's a good team," said Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom, who made 29 saves. "It's not just us. They played a really good third period. But we really believe in what we're doing and we know we can beat some good hockey teams."
: Anaheim enters Tuesday's action aiming to stop a two-game skid. After falling 4-0 in Phoenix last Wednesday, the Ducks suffered a 5-2 setback against the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion on Saturday night. Patrick Marleau scored twice in the first 15:19 of the game.
"We had all kinds of shots," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "On one power play, we had six scoring chances. We just didn't find a way to put it over the line."
: Ducks forward Bobby Ryan
has four goals in his last seven games and has notched at least one point in eight of his last nine contests. He leads the club with 17 goals.
For the Wild, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Brent Burns and Petr Sykora are all out with concussions. Sykora is the closest to returning. … Chuck Kobasew missed Monday's game with a knee injury and is questionable. Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf
will likely be a game-time decision after suffering a cut on his right leg Saturday night. Teemu Selanne
(hand) is expected to return next month, Joffrey Lupul
(back) is due back in February and Ryan Carter
(foot) is out indefinitely.
: Monday's victory was Minnesota's 25th one-goal game of the season, the most in the NHL.
: "What we did last year was pretty special to climb all the way back and get into a playoff spot. You're not going to be able to do that very often. Teams are just too good now. It's too equally matched." -- Ducks defenseman James Wisniewski