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Preview: Ducks Close Out Six-Game Trip in Minnesota

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara /

The Ducks (29-18-10, 68 pts.) conclude a season-long six-game, 14-day road trip tonight against the Minnesota Wild (37-12-6, 80 pts.) at Xcel Energy Center (5 p.m. PT, Fox Sports West/AM 830). Anaheim has posted a 12-6-4 record since Christmas, ranking tied for fourth among league leaders in standings points (28 pts.) and tied for sixth in wins. In addition, Anaheim (47) co-leads the league in fewest goals allowed since Christmas (shootout goals excluded). On the penalty kill, the Ducks are 68-for-76 for an 89.5% mark that leads the league since December 25, 2.0% higher than the second-place Ottawa Senators (87.5%).

Anaheim has held opponents to two goals or less in 14 of the last 18 games (37 GA total, shootout goals excluded) and held teams without a power-play goal in 11 of the last 15 games. Following tonight's contest, Anaheim will return home for one of only three February home games on Friday vs. the Florida Panthers (7 p.m. PT). That game will mark the club's first home game since January 31 against Colorado (W, 5-1). Other home games this month include matchups against the LA Kings on Sunday, February 19 and the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, February 22.

Tonight's contest concludes the three-game season series between the two clubs with Minnesota taking the first two. Minnesota's victories include a 2-1 win on January 8 at Honda Center and a 5-3 victory on January 21 at Xcel Energy Center. Despite the two losses, the Ducks enter tonight's game with eight wins in the last 12 (8-4-0) against the Wild and hold an all-time mark of 29-20-9 (11-11-7 in Minnesota). Ryan Kesler's 37 points (25g/12a) in 58 games lead all active Ducks in career scoring vs. Minnesota.

The Ducks are looking to salvage an unforgiving road trip that has only yielded one win through the first five games (1-3-1). They gave a valiant effort on Saturday night, erasing a three-goal deficit to the league-leading Capitals in the second and third periods, but consolation prizes mean little in this league where points are at a premium.

The road doesn't get any easier tonight, as they take on a Minnesota squad that has gone 7-2-1 over its last 10 games, including a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday. Former Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau has his new club rolling, as they enter tonight's game just four points back of the Capitals for the top spot in the NHL. Minnesota also has a +58 goal differential, second only to Washington's +71. Leading the Wild in scoring is Mikael Granlund, who enters tonight's game with 50 points (16g/34a) in 55 games. Granlund has set single-season career highs in goals, assists, points, power-play goals (3), power-play assists (11), shorthanded goals (2) and multi-point games (12).

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