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Preview: Ducks Host Conference-Leading Blackhawks

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara / AnaheimDucks.com

The Pacific Division-leading Ducks (44-23-13, 101 points) play their penultimate game of the 2016-17 regular season tonight against the Western Conference-leading Chicago Blackhawks (50-22-8, 108 points) at Honda Center (7 p.m. PT, NBCSN/AM 830). The Ducks have eclipsed 100 points in the last four consecutive seasons, joining the Blackhawks as the only teams that have done so. Anaheim enters tonight's game with points in 12 consecutive games (9-0-3), the longest active streak in the NHL. The club is also 11-1-3 in the last 15 games and 12-2-3 dating to the end of its bye week on March 3.

At Honda Center, the Ducks are riding a four-game win streak along with an eight-game point streak (7-0-1). The club has gone 17-4-2 at home since January 1, which ranks second among NHL teams in home standings points (36) and wins. Following tonight's game, the Ducks will conclude their regular-season schedule on Sunday vs. Los Angeles (5:30 p.m. PT).

Tonight's contest wraps up the three-game season series between the Ducks and Blackhawks. Anaheim has gone 46-31-11 against Chicago all-time, including a 1-1-0 record in 2016-17. At Honda Center, the Ducks have compiled a 23-14-5 all-time record vs. the Blackhawks. These two teams last met on March 9 in Chicago, a 1-0 Ducks victory. That night Jonathan Bernier made 43 saves for his 100th career NHL win while Corey Perry scored the game's lone goal as Anaheim posted its first 1-0 shutout in Chicago since Oct. 28, 2014. Perry enters tonight's game with 31 points (14g/17a) in 40 career games vs. the Blackhawks, tops among active Ducks skaters.

The Ducks are coming off their 25th consecutive home victory over the Calgary Flames two nights ago, the longest run against one opponent in NHL history. Despite trailing 1-0, the Ducks rallied with three unanswered goals from Patrick Eaves, Kevin Bieksa and Chris Wagner. Though the victory gave the Ducks a home-and-home sweep over the Flames (they also won, 4-3, in Calgary on Sunday), and pushed the club to 101 points this season, it came at a cost. Defenseman Cam Fowler was forced out of the game due to a lower-body injury during the third period following a knee-on-knee collision with Flames captain Mark Giordano. Fowler needed assistance exiting the ice and underwent an MRI yesterday. The 25-year-old defensemen has not missed a game yet this season and is considered day to day.

Already without defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Clayton Stoner, fellow blueliner Korbinian Holzer returned to his native Germany yesterday to attend a personal matter. After practice yesterday, head coach Randy Carlyle said he expected Holzer to return early next week. Sami Vatanen likely returns to the lineup tonight after missing the last two games with an upper-body injury.

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, are in the midst of their final road trip of the season, a three-game trek that began two nights ago with a 4-3 overtime loss in Colorado. The OT setback was their fourth loss over the last six games (2-2-2), but they have already locked up first place in the Western Conference. Chicago will host the second wild card team in the first round next week and will have home ice advantage through the first three rounds if they get that far. Following tonight's game, the Blackhawks will close out the season on Saturday in Los Angeles.

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