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Preview: Ducks, Lightning Open Season Series Tonight

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara /

The Pacific Division-leading Ducks (24-13-9, 57 pts.) hit the halfway point of a three-game homestand this evening as they host the Tampa Bay Lightning (21-20-4, 46 pts.) at Honda Center (7 p.m. PT, Prime Ticket/AM 830). The Ducks have earned points in 11 of the last 12 games (7-1-4) overall and points in 10 of their last 11 home games (8-1-2). The club's seven wins and 17 points since Christmas rank second in the NHL behind only Washington (9-1-1, 19 pts.). In addition, Anaheim has allowed the second-fewest goals in the league since Christmas with 17. On the penalty kill, the Ducks are 37-for-41 for a 90.2% that co-leads the league since December 25.

Tonight's contest opens a two-game season series between the Ducks and Lightning. Anaheim owns a 15-14-1 record vs. Tampa Bay, which includes an 8-6-1 all-time mark in Orange County. These two clubs last met on Dec. 2, 2015 at Honda Center, a 2-1 Lightning victory. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf leads the current roster in career scoring vs. the Lightning, collecting 34 points (11g/23a) in 37 games. Anaheim will complete the season set by traveling to Tampa Bay for a February 4 contest at Amalie Arena as part of a six-game road trip that begins February 3 at Florida and concludes on the 14th at Minnesota.

The Ducks will look to get back into the win column tonight after seeing their three-game win streak end in a 2-1 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. Rickard Rakell tallied the lone goal for Anaheim, his second goal in the last three games and his 18th overall of the season. The 23-year-old Swede co-leads the Ducks in goals with Ryan Kesler, who enters tonight's game with a team-high 37 points (18g/19a). John Gibson returned to the crease for the 11th time in the last 12 games, stopping 23-of-25 shots in the OT setback.

Tonight marks stop No. 2 in Tampa Bay's six-game road trip that began yesterday afternoon with a 2-1 victory over the LA Kings at STAPLES Center. Tyler Johnson scored his 13th goal of the season to tie the game at the 14:33 mark of the first period, and former Kings forward Brian Boyle responded 1:13 into the middle frame with his 11th of the season and the eventual game winner. Ben Bishop made 31 saves for the Lightning, which won for just the second time this season against a Pacific Division opponent and the third time vs. a team from the Western Conference.

Following tonight's game, the Ducks will conclude the homestand on Thursday vs. Colorado before embarking on a two-game road trip to Minnesota (Saturday) and Winnipeg (Monday, January 23).

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