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Preview: Ducks Look to Rebound in Tampa Bay

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara /

The Ducks (28-16-9, 65 pts.) continue a season-long 14-day, six-game road trip vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning (22-24-6, 50 pts.) tonight at Amalie Arena (4 p.m. PT, Prime Ticket/AM 830). Anaheim has posted an 11-4-3 record since Christmas, tied for second among league leaders in standings points (25 pts.) and fourth in wins. In addition, Anaheim (33) has allowed the fewest goals in the league since Christmas. On the penalty kill, the Ducks are 58-for-63 for a 92.1% that leads the league since Dec. 25, 5.4% higher than second-place Ottawa (86.7%).

Defensively, Anaheim has held opponents to two goals or less in 12 of the last 14 games (23 GA total) and has held teams without a power-play goal in 10 of the last 11. Tonight's contest also concludes Anaheim's 10th set of back-to-back games this season. The Ducks are 7-6-6 in back-to-backs, including a 3-3-3 mark in the second game. The current road trip, which will see the Ducks travel over 8,600 miles, also includes stops in New York (Rangers - on Tuesday, February 7, 4 p.m. PT), Buffalo (Thursday, February 9, 4 p.m. PT), Washington (Saturday, February 11, 4:30 p.m. PT) and Minnesota (Tuesday, February 14, 5 p.m. PT).

Tonight's matchup concludes a two-game season series between the Ducks and Lightning. These two teams first met on January 17 at Honda Center, a 2-1 overtime Ducks victory. Rickard Rakell scored the OT winner for the Ducks, marking his third career OT goal and Anaheim's second of the season. Though the Ducks are 16-14-1 against the Lightning in the all-time series, they haven't earned a regulation win against Tampa Bay since Dec. 9, 2006 (4-3 W) and have lost four in a row at Amalie Arena. Antoine Vermette leads current Ducks skaters in career scoring vs. the Lightning with 15 points (7g/8a) in 30 games.

The Ducks arrived into Tampa Bay at approximately 1 a.m. local time and, as of now, there is no update on the status of Sami Vatanen, who left last night's game with a lower-body injury in the second period. Vatanen was squeezed along the glass and was shown flexing his leg before entering the dressing room. If Vatanen can't play, expect Shea Theodore (last night's healthy scratch) to draw into the lineup. For what it's worth, the San Diego Gulls played last night in Ontario and conclude their home-and-home series with the Reign tonight at Valley View Casino Center. Rookie defenseman Brandon Montour, who made his NHL debut on December 29 and went on to appear in five games with the Ducks, scored the overtime-winning goal last night for the Gulls.

The Lightning, meanwhile, continue a four-game homestand that started with two losses to the Boston Bruins (4-3 L) and Ottawa Senators (5-2 L). Home ice hasn't been kind to the Lightning as of late, as the club enters tonight's game with losses in three straight and five of the last six at Amalie Arena. Here's something to keep in mind: The Bolts have lost 10-straight games (0-7-3) when allowing a power-play goal.

These are unchartered waters for the Lightning, who sit in dead last in the Eastern Conference. It was only two seasons ago when Tampa Bay reached the Stanley Cup Final, losing in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks. Last season they made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final, ultimately losing to the eventual Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins.

Based off reports from their morning skate at Amalie Arena, it appears Ondrej Palat will not play tonight after suffering an injury late in Tampa's loss to Ottawa on Thursday. The Lightning subsequently recalled Joel Vermin, who will likely skate on the third line with Brian Boyle and Valtteri Filppula.

Potential Line Combinations




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