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Preview: Ducks-Hawks Ready for Battle on Black Friday

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara /

The Ducks (9-7-4, 22 pts.) conclude a season-high five-game homestand in their annual day after Thanksgiving game against the Chicago Blackhawks (13-6-2, 28 pts.) this afternoon at Honda Center (1 p.m. PT, Prime Ticket/AM 830). This is also the first of two 1 p.m. home games for the Ducks this season. In addition to today's contest, Anaheim will host the Ottawa Senators in an afternoon matinee on Sunday, December 11. The Ducks have won four of the past six games at home (4-1-1, outscoring opponents 20-9) and collected points in seven of their past nine games overall (5-2-2, 13 pts.).

The Ducks today play their 20th Black Friday game in franchise history and third consecutive against the Blackhawks. Anaheim has hosted 16 games on the day after Thanksgiving (all afternoon games at Honda Center), going 7-4-4 (.600 points percentage) in the previous 15 contests. Anaheim owns a 9-5-5 overall record in day-after-Thanksgiving contests, outscoring the opposition 53-48. This is the 10th time the Ducks have hosted the Blackhawks on Black Friday, with the Ducks posting a 4-3-2 record in those nine previous contests. Captain Ryan Getzlaf has tallied seven points (2g/5a) and Corey Perry has scored six points (2g/4a) in nine previous Black Friday games dating to Nov. 24, 2006 vs. New Jersey.

Today's contest kicks off a three-game season series between these two teams. The Ducks have gone 45-30-11 all-time against the Blackhawks, having won the most recent meeting on Feb. 13, 2016 with a 3-2 overtime decision at United Center. Meanwhile at Honda Center, Anaheim has posted a 23-13-4 all-time mark vs. Chicago. Perry enters today's matinee with 30 points (13g/17a) in 38 career games vs. the Blackhawks, tops among active Ducks skaters. These two teams will next meet on March 9 in Chicago before wrapping up the season set back in Anaheim in the penultimate game of the regular season on April 6.

The Ducks will immediately travel to San Jose upon the conclusion of this game today. This is already the fifth set of back-to-back games in 2016-17 for Anaheim, which is 3-2-3 in back-to-backs this season after going 14-5-3 in such contests last year. In total, the Ducks will play 14 sets of back-to back games in 2016-17, an increase of three from the previous season.

Anaheim is looking to bounce back from a 3-2 shootout loss that went a franchise-setting 14 rounds against the New York Islanders at Honda Center on Tuesday. Cam Fowler and Rickard Rakell tallied goals for Anaheim, while Jonathan Bernier made 33 saves in regulation and overtime.

John Gibson (6-6-3, 2.59 GAA, .908 SV%) is expected to make his 15th start of the season today.

Chicago, meanwhile, enters this matchup riding a two-game losing streak with setbacks to Edmonton (5-0) and San Joe (2-1). The Blackhawks are on the tail end of their "Circus Trip" that began with a 4-0 loss in Winnipeg on November 15. Through five games, the Hawks are 2-3-0, and they'll wrap up the seven-game road trip tomorrow night in LA.  

The Blackhawks could be dealt a big blow if their captain is unable to play today. Jonathan Toews suffered an upper-body injury in the second period of the team's 2-1 loss to San Jose on Wednesday night and is considered "day to day," according to head coach Joel Quenneville. Toews didn't practice with the team yesterday in El Segundo.

Corey Crawford (9-6-2, 2.33 GAA, .923 SV%) is expected to get the start for Chicago.

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