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Preview: Ducks Open Daunting Back-to-Back in Chicago

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara /

The Ducks (34-22-10, 78 points) open a brief two-game road trip against the Chicago Blackhawks (42-18-5, 89 points) tonight at the United Center (5:30 p.m. PT, KCOP/AM 830). The Ducks have 16 games remaining on their regular-season schedule, including nine at home and seven on the road. The club's final road schedule is broken down with two games in the Pacific Time Zone, two in the Mountain and three in the Central, two of which will be played during the current road trip. Anaheim is in the midst of playing 14 games in a 28-day stretch (nine home games and five road contests) that features two sets of back-to-back games.

Tonight begins Anaheim's 12th set of back-to-backs that will conclude tomorrow in St. Louis (5 p.m. PT). The Ducks are 8-7-7 in back-to-backs this season, including a 5-3-3 mark in the opening contest. The club currently owns the league's sixth-best penalty kill at 84.8% overall, is tied for eighth in fewest goals allowed (166) and ranked eighth overall in goals against per game (2.52). Upcoming milestones include Jonathan Bernier one victory shy of 100 career NHL wins and Logan Shaw one appearance shy of 100 career NHL games.

Tonight's matchup represents the second contest of a three-game season set between the Ducks and Blackhawks. Anaheim has gone 45-31-11 all-time against Chicago, which includes a 3-2 loss on Black Friday at Honda Center. In Chicago, the Ducks have posted a 22-17-6 all-time road mark and claimed a 3-2 overtime victory in the most recent United Center meeting on Feb. 13, 2016. Corey Perry enters tonight's game with 30 points (13g/17a) in 39 career games vs. the Blackhawks, tops among active Ducks skaters. These two teams will wrap up the season set back in Anaheim on Thursday, April 6 (7 p.m. PT), marking the second-to-last regular-season game for both clubs.

The Ducks are coming off a thrilling 4-3 shootout victory over the Nashville Predators two nights ago in a game that featured two separate two-goal deficits for Anaheim. Ryan Getzlaf scored in the first period to cut a 2-0 deficit in half, and then Nick Ritchie and Rickard Rakell scored consecutive goals late in the middle frame to even the score at 3-3. Patrick Eaves assisted on both goals in the second period, giving him four points (2g/2a) in his last three games as a Duck (four games overall). Eaves also scored the lone goal in the five-round shootout to lift Anaheim to a much-needed victory.

They'll certainly have their hands full tonight against a Blackhawks team that has won seven in a row and nine of their last 10 games overall (9-1-0). Chicago, which has a 22-8-4 mark at United Center, currently sits one point behind the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Wild (90 points). Patrick Kane leads the Blackhawks in scoring with 70 points (29g/41a), followed by Artemi Panarin (58 points, 20g/38a) and team captain Jonathan Toews (48 points, 17g/31a).

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