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Preview: Ducks, Jets Open Season Series Tonight

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara /

The Pacific Division-leading Ducks (26-14-9, 61 pts.) conclude their final road trip of January this evening against the Winning Jets (22-23-4, 48 pts.) at MTS Centre (5 p.m. PT, KCOP/AM 830). Anaheim has earned points in 13 of the last 15 games (9-2-4, 22 pts.) and in five of the last six road games (3-1-2, 8 pts.). The club's nine wins and 21 points since Christmas rank tied for second and second overall (respectively) in the NHL behind only Washington (10-1-2, 22 pts.). In addition, Anaheim has allowed the second-fewest goals in the league since Christmas with 24. Anaheim is 8-2-1 in January, matching November (8-4-2) for its most wins in a single month this season.

Tonight's contest opens a three-game season series between the Ducks and Jets. The Ducks have an all-time record of 14-7-2 against the Jets franchise and are 7-2-1 in the last 10 games. Anaheim owns an 8-3-0 all-time road record vs. Winnipeg, including wins in four consecutive games dating to Oct. 6, 2013. The Ducks went 2-0-1 against the Jets last season as two of the three games were decided in overtime (3-2 Ducks OT win on March 20, 2016 and a 2-1 Jets OT win on April 5, 2016). Antoine Vermette paces active Ducks skaters in career scoring vs. the Jets franchise, collecting 16 points (3g/13a) in 30 career games. These two teams will conclude the season set in March with each hosting a home game on Friday, March 24 (7 p.m. PT) at Honda Center and Thursday, March 30 at MTS Centre (5 p.m. PT).

Upcoming milestones for Anaheim include Randy Carlyle one win to 300 career wins with Anaheim, Kevin Bieksa one assist shy of 200 career NHL assists and Hampus Lindholm one goal from surpassing Ruslan Salei (26) for sole possession of 10th on the franchise's all-time goals list for defensemen.

The Ducks are looking for a bit of redemption after coming off a 5-3 defeat two nights ago to the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Despite erasing a 1-0 deficit with three unanswered goals, a 3-1 lead in the third period quickly turned into a 5-3 deficit in the span of two minutes. Stefan Noesen, Cam Fowler and Corey Perry scored the goals for the Ducks, who saw their nine-game streak of allowing two goals or less fall by the wayside. John Gibson started the game, but left after playing 14:22 of the first period with an upper-body injury. Jonathan Bernier came on in relief and stopped 16-of-20 shots.

The Jets, meanwhile, are coming off a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues at MTS Centre on Saturday night. Ondrej Pavelec made 34 saves and set a Jets record for saves in a period (25) in his second consecutive victory since being recalled from Manitoba of the American Hockey League. Bryan Little scored twice, and Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers also found the back of the net for the Jets, who inched closer to a wild card spot in the Western Conference.

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