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Daily Primer Dec. 29: Ducks go for 11 in a row

Sunday, 12.29.2013 / 10:00 AM / NHL Insider

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The Anaheim Ducks have been able to win anywhere. To extend their franchise-record streak to 11 victories, they'll have to do it at one of the NHL's toughest stops for visiting teams.

One night after beating the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 in overtime at home, the League-leading Ducks head to the Bay Area for a game against the San Jose Sharks, who've been terrific in their own building. San Jose is 13-1-3 at SAP Center; the Ducks (14-0-2) are the only team with fewer regulation losses at home. But Anaheim is also tops in the League with 14 road victories, though the Ducks had to settle for one point in their previous trip to San Jose, a 4-3 shootout loss Nov. 30.

Here's a look at all of the action on one of the busiest Sundays of the NHL season:

Washington Capitals at Buffalo Sabres -- The Capitals close out 2013 with two games on the road, beginning with their first of the season against the Sabres. Washington is coming off a 3-2 victory against the New York Rangers on Friday night that solidified its hold on second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Sabres are improving but remain last in the overall standings. They grabbed a 2-0 lead against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday but had to scramble in the final seconds of regulation to force overtime before losing 4-3 in a shootout.

Montreal Canadiens at Florida Panthers -- For the second time in as many nights, BB&T Center should be packed to watch the Panthers host an Original Six rival. Florida came up short against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday in a 4-3 loss, but the Panthers should have starting goaltender Tim Thomas back in the lineup. He'll face Montreal backup Peter Budaj, who's expected to get the call after Carey Price excelled in a 2-1 shootout victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets -- There's nothing that would perk up the Blue Jackets' holiday spirits like a win at home against the Penguins, a team they haven't beaten at Nationwide Arena in nearly five years. The Penguins went back to work after the Christmas break and were outplayed for much of the night by the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday, but they still won 4-3 in overtime on a goal by James Neal. The Blue Jackets return home with a three-game winning streak after beating the New Jersey Devils 2-1 in a shootout Friday night.

St. Louis Blues at Dallas Stars -- The Blues might not have needed a plane to fly to Dallas, not after rallying from a two-goal deficit in the final minutes of regulation and beating the Chicago Blackhawks 6-5 in a shootout in front of their biggest home crowd of the season. The Stars don't own a playoff slot and trail the Blues by 11 points in the Central Division standings, but they're coming off a 4-1 win against the Nashville Predators on Friday and are 4-0-1 in their past five games.

Carolina Hurricanes at Toronto Maple Leafs -- The Hurricanes visit Toronto on a Sunday for the first time since Nov. 17, 1991, when they were still the Hartford Whalers, and they'll be looking to end a four-game losing streak that has dropped them to seventh place in the Metropolitan Division. The Maple Leafs have been in a slump of their own, though they overcame an early two-goal deficit Friday to beat Buffalo in a shootout. Toronto is clinging to a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference despite allowing a League-high 36.0 shots per game.

New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning -- Expect Henrik Lundqvist to be back in goal for the Rangers after Cam Talbot played three straight games; he won two but lost 3-2 in Washington on Friday. Lundqvist doesn't have fond memories of his most-recent visit to Tampa Bay Times Forum. The Lightning torched him for four goals in two periods during a 5-0 victory Nov. 25. The Rangers were able to take it easy in Tampa on Saturday while the Lightning were losing 2-1 to the Canadiens in a shootout.

Vancouver Canucks at Calgary Flames ­-- These two teams haven't seen each other since the first Sunday night of the season, when the Canucks spoiled Calgary's home opener by winning in overtime. Rookie Eddie Lack was in goal for the Canucks that night, and he'll be there again on Sunday because Roberto Luongo is sidelined with an undisclosed injury. The Canucks are the last team to resume play after the Christmas break. The Flames continue a five-game homestand; they lost 2-0 to the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

New York Islanders at Minnesota Wild -- The struggling Islanders, who may be without star center John Tavares for the second night in a row due to a lower-body injury, could be just the tonic for the Wild. Minnesota returns to Xcel Energy Center after an 0-4-0 road trip that ended with a 6-4 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Friday. The Tavares-less Islanders lost 2-1 at home to the Devils on Saturday and have won just twice in seven trips to St. Paul since the Wild entered the NHL in 2000.

Winnipeg Jets at Colorado Avalanche -- The Avalanche are another team that's glad to be back home. Colorado resumed play after the break by taking a 7-2 pasting from the Blackhawks at United Center. The Jets come to Denver after beating the Wild on Friday, but they still trail the third-place Avalanche by 10 points in the Central Division race. Winnipeg would do well not to fall behind: Colorado is 13-0-1 when leading after one period and 20-0-1 when ahead after two.

Anaheim Ducks at San Jose Sharks -- The Sharks and Ducks are coming off victories against the Coyotes that required them to go past regulation. San Jose won 4-3 in a shootout at Jobing.com Arena on Friday; the Ducks topped the Coyotes 3-2 in overtime Saturday before a packed house in Anaheim. The Ducks' 10-game winning streak is part of a 13-game stretch in which they haven't lost in regulation (11-0-2). San Jose has won three in a row and four of five overall; the Sharks are also 8-0-1 in their past nine home games.

Quote of the Day

We want to make sure that whoever makes our team really makes our team by earning it and not putting them in situations where they get preference because of their status as a first-round pick or whatever it might be. That's not going to happen. Everybody has to earn their way on our team.

— Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen on the team's prospects at development camp