Ducks, Preds set for Round 3
Tuesday, 01.04.2011 / 3:24 PM
NHL.comPREDATORS (19-13-6) at DUCKS (21-17-4)
TV -- FS-Tennessee (HD); FS-West (HD)
Last 10 --
Nashville 5-5-0; Anaheim 6-4-0.
-- This is the third of four meetings between two teams fighting for leverage in an already-tight Western Conference playoff race. The teams split their previous two matchups, with the home team winning each game.
-- Neither Nashville nor Anaheim has enjoyed any breathing room as they both battle for position in their respective ultra-competitive divisions. Especially the Ducks, who are entrenched in a tough Pacific Division battle that sees just eight points separating first and fifth place. The conference race isn’t any clearer, as every team but the Oilers appears in contention for a playoff spot.
-- Following a tough five-game losing streak, Nashville has managed consecutive 4-1 victories over Minnesota and division rival Columbus. Against the Blue Jackets on Sunday, the Preds scored four unanswered goals after Columbus opened the scoring just 37 seconds into the game. Captain Shea Weber started off 2011 in style with a three point night while Patric Hornqvist scored his tenth goal of the season, tying Steve Sullivan for the team lead.
"If you ever want to suck the energy out of a building, just give up a goal on the first shift," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We were able to get through the first period, and I thought we regrouped very well. I thought after that, we were really strong all game."
-- Despite the recent news of captain Ryan Getzlaf
's indefinite leave due to a facial injury, the Ducks are enjoying a three-game win streak that includes an impressive 2-1 win over the defending Stanley-Cup champion Blackhawks on Sunday.
Against Chicago, goaltender Jonas Hiller
continued his stellar work in the crease, stopping 19 shots in the third period and 39 shots overall. It was another solid performance for Hiller, whose 1,072 saves and 1,159 shots faced are easily the most in the League.
"He made some highlight reel stops and really saved our butts," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said after the game. "What else can you say?"
Ducks center Maxim Lapierre
(acquired from Montreal on Dec. 31) has received his work visa and is eligible to play tonight.
-- Since returning from a lower-body injury, forward David Legwand has three points in two games and is a plus-four. After going five games without a point, Weber has five points in his last two contests. While their power play ranks among the worst in the League, the Predators penalty kill has gone four games without allowing a goal. ... Anaheim forward Joffrey Lupul
is enjoying a three-game point streak as is Corey Perry
, who has 15 points in his last ten games.
-- Center Cal O’Reilly broke the fibula in his right leg against Columbus and is out indefinitely. Forwards Matthew Lombardi (concussion), Steve Sullivan (lower body), and Martin Erat (upper body) are also on IR for Nashville. ... For Anaheim, forward Jason Blake
is questionable with a shoulder injury. Aside from Getzlaf’s sinus fractures, Aaron Voros
is recovering from a broken orbital bone while Jason Jaffray
is rehabbing a knee surgery.
-- Teammates Perry and Getzlaf are slowly rewriting the Ducks' record books. Despite having played barely more than 400 NHL games each, both forwards are top-five in Ducks history in goals and points as well as top-ten on the team’s all-time penalty-minutes list.
Puck drop --
In the midst of a six-game homestand, the Ducks have a chance to put some space between themselves and the rest of the Western Conference. The Ducks have gone 6-2 in their last eight games at Honda Center and their 13-6-1 home record is among the League's best.