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Preview: Ducks Conclude Back-to-Back Set in Arizona

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara /

The Ducks (31-19-10, 72 pts.) play their seventh road game of the month as the club travels to Arizona to take on the Coyotes (20-30-7, 47 pts.) tonight at Gila River Arena (6 p.m. PT, Prime Ticket/AM 830). This evening wraps up Anaheim's 11th set of back-to-back games this season, which began last night with a 1-0 victory over the LA Kings at Honda Center. The Ducks enter tonight's game with the league's seventh-best penalty kill at 84.0% overall and the eighth-best PK on the road at 84.2%. Following tonight's game, the Ducks return to Orange County to host the Boston Bruins on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. PT).

Tonight's matchup concludes the four-game season series, marking the shortest season set between the two clubs since 2012-13. The Ducks are 13-2-3 in their last 18 games against the Coyotes and own an all-time record of 70-34-19 vs. their Pacific Division rival (31-18-11 on road). Anaheim has also won the last five games between the two teams. The season series opened with a 5-1 Ducks win on November 4 at Honda Center before a 3-2 Anaheim decision on January 6 in Orange County. The Ducks also earned a 3-0 victory on January 14 at Gila River Arena, the most recent meeting between the two clubs which also represented the organization's first-ever siblings trip. Corey Perry (4 points, all assists) leads all skaters in scoring during the season series, while Ryan Kesler (2g) leads both rosters in goals. In all-time scoring against the Coyotes, Ryan Getzlaf's 59 points (17g/42a) in 61 career games leads the current Ducks roster.

Last night's victory gave the Ducks a 12-point cushion over the Kings for third place in the Pacific Division, and though the club is still struggling mightily to score goals (they've scored a single goal in each of the last three games), head coach Randy Carlyle said he was pleased with the defensive effort his team put forth.

"You have to look at the team game and the number of chances we gave up. We were well under 10," he said, on the game last night. "You have to give LA credit because they played [the night before]. We didn't spend a lot of time in the defensive zone except for a few furies, and when they did, we kept everything to the outside."

After recording his fifth shutout of the season and second in his last three starts, John Gibson said he expects more of the same in terms of the closeness of games moving forward. "At this time of the season, this is how it's going to be," he said. "Going into playoffs and towards the end of the year, games are going to be tight. Not much room for error."

They'll need another staunch defensive effort tonight against the Coyotes, who enter the game with four wins in their last seven (4-2-1) and 19 goals (shootout goals excluded) over the span. Martin Hanzal scored his team-leading 15th goal of the season in their most recent game - a 4-1 loss to the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks at Gila River Arena on Saturday night. Veteran forward Radim Vrbata leads the club in home scoring this season with 24 points (6g/18a), while Hanzal paces the club in home goals (10).

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