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game preview

Wild go for four in a row against struggling Ducks

Friday, 12.04.2009 / 7:00 PM

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

DUCKS (10-13-4) at WILD (11-12-3)

Last 10 -- Anaheim 4-5-1; Minnesota 5-2-3

Season series -- The teams have split their two meetings, which took place in an eight-day span in October. Minnesota opened its home schedule by rallying from a 3-0 third-period deficit for a 4-3 overtime victory over the Ducks on Oct. 6. Anaheim returned the favor on Oct. 14 with a 3-2 victory at the Honda Center.

Big story -- The Ducks and Wild are separated by just one point (Minnesota has 25, Anaheim 24), but they appear to be headed in opposite directions. The Ducks have lost two in a row, including Thursday's 3-1 loss at Dallas, and have failed to take advantage of an early schedule that saw them play 17 of their first 26 games at home. The Wild have won three in a row and are 4-0-1 in their last five. A win would put them at 12-12-3 -- pretty good for a team that lost nine of its first 12.

Team Scope:

Ducks -- Ducks forward Corey Perry will have to start a new scoring streak. He saw his team-record 19-gamer end Thursday in Dallas, where he failed to get a point. His best chance was a third-period shot that rang off the goalpost. The Ducks' top line of Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan has been producing offense, but the rest of the forwards have not -- a big reason the team has struggled. Anaheim had also better find a way to start winning on the road -- the Ducks are 0-5-2 in their last seven away from home and have more road games left than anyone in the West.

''We got some bad breaks,'' Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said of the loss at Dallas. ''But you have to earn your breaks, too. I didn't think we earned enough earlier on in the hockey game.''

Wild -- Minnesota is getting production from a couple of newcomers up front -- Guillaume Latendresse and Andrew Ebbert, neither of whom fit in well with their previous teams. Latendresse had a goal and an assist on Ebbert's OT winner in the victory over Nashville.

"You know that they're going to have that initial energy where they want to come in and they want to do really well," coach Todd Richards said after the win. "Whenever you bring in somebody new, there's always a little bit of a threat of guys getting ice time and position. So it's that competition amongst the team, which is a healthy thing."

Who's hot -- Wild captain Mikko Koivu is 1-4-5 in his last three games, all Minnesota victories. Goaltender Niklas Backstrom is 3-0-1 in his last four starts. … Despite not getting a point on Thursday, Perry has 12 points in his last 10 games.

Injury report -- Anaheim forward Teemu Selanne fractured a bone in his left hand in the loss to Dallas and didn't play in the third period. It's not known how long he'll be out. Ducks forward Kyle Calder is expected to miss another week or two weeks after being struck in the face by a puck during practice on Nov. 28. Joffrey Lupul (back spasms) is still ailing, and Ryan Carter (broken foot) is expected back later this month. … Minnesota got forward Martin Havlat (groin) back against Nashville but is still waiting for him to produce the kind of numbers that persuaded the Wild to sign him to a long-term, big-money deal.

Stat pack -- The Wild has won three straight games for the first time since the final three games of the 2008-09 season. Minnesota is 4-0-1 in its last five, the first time it has picked up points in five straight games since a 6-0-1 start to 2008-09. Backstrom's win on Wednesday was his 66th at the Xcel Energy Center, passing Manny Fernandez for the most by any player in arena history.

Puck drop -- The Wild went through a dreadful start as players struggled to find their roles under Richards' new up-tempo system. It looks like they're starting to put the square pegs in the square holes and the round pegs in the round ones. The Ducks are in danger of digging themselves such a big hole that they won't be able to get out and mount a playoff charge.

2009-2010 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Dec 29 '09MIN 2 at ANA 4B. Ryan
Dec 04 '09ANA 4 at MIN 5 - SOG. Latendresse
Oct 14 '09MIN 2 at ANA 3R. Carter
Oct 06 '09ANA 3 at MIN 4 - OTA. Brunette
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
C. Perry28142034+23220
R. Getzlaf2852833+22930
T. Selanne2714721-81474
B. Ryan2813720+01850
S. Niedermayer2831417-8831
R. Whitney2831316+02430
J. Wisniewski2311314-12210
J. Lupul218412+11200
S. Koivu233811-21410
T. Marchant28437-121400
N. Boynton24167+02010
M. Brown28213-13302
E. Artyukhin24213-33500
P. Nokelainen23213-71000
R. Carter13123+0601
S. Eminger24022-3400
B. Mikkelson22022-5800
G. Parros28101+16300
M. Beleskey7011-2200
K. Calder6011-3800
K. Chipchura20000-101600
S. Brookbank12000-41400
E. Christensen9000-3200
M. Sharp8000+0000
L. Sbisa8000-1600
B. Festerling2000+0200
A. Ebbett2000-1000
D. Sexton1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
J. Hiller197-9-2555883.13.906
J. Giguere113-4-3283412.61.918
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
M. Koivu2792029+01441
A. Brunette2791524+1662
M. Zidlicky2621416-12511
E. Belanger2751015-21011
A. Miettinen246713+11411
O. Nolan277512-2811
K. Brodziak274610-1600
B. Burns212810-111820
M. Havlat21279-16220
C. Kobasew23437-71210
C. Clutterbuck22516-11001
G. Latendresse27426-3400
S. Hnidy26066-13900
G. Zanon27145-21000
K. Johnsson20224-2810
B. Pouliot14224+01200
N. Schultz27134-10810
A. Ebbett17303-4211
P. Sykora10213-2600
J. Sheppard23033-4800
R. Earl7202-1200
J. Scott20101-22700
D. Boogaard19011-72500
N. Smith7000-31000
J. Sifers4000+0000
A. Hilbert4000-2200
D. Irmen2000-1000
P. Bouchard1000+0200
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
N. Backstrom2311-9-3626582.70.906
J. Harding51-3-0151083.41.861