The Ducks (33-21-10, 76 pts.) hit the halfway point of a three-game homestand tonight when they host the Vancouver Canucks (27-30-7, 61 pts.) at Honda Center (5 p.m. PT, Prime Ticket/AM 830). Anaheim has won three consecutive home games for the first time since January 1-6 and is one shy of matching a season-high four-game home win streak (two times, last: November 29-December 11). The Ducks have 18 games remaining on their regular season schedule, including 11 at home and seven on the road. Only the Edmonton Oilers (12) have more home games remaining among NHL teams. 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. The Ducks are 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-backs. Anaheim will conclude the homestand on Tuesday vs. Nashville (7 p.m. PT).
Tonight's matchup represents the penultimate contest of a five-game season series between the Ducks and Canucks. Anaheim is 2-0-1 vs. Vancouver this season, including a 4-2 win on October 23 at Honda Center (home opener), a 3-1 victory on December 1 and a 3-2 overtime loss on December 30 at Rogers Arena. Ryan Getzlaf leads Anaheim skaters with five points (1g/4a) in the first three games of the season set and paces active Ducks skaters in career scoring vs. Vancouver with 42 points (11g/31a) in 45 games. The Ducks are 44-37-19 vs. the Canucks all-time and 13-2-4 over the last 19 contests. In Orange County, the Ducks have posted a 20-16-13 record vs. the Canucks. These two teams will conclude their season series on March 28 at Rogers Arena.
Anaheim is coming off a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night in the club's first game back from its bye week. Rust didn't appear to play a factor in the game for the Ducks, who erased a 2-1 deficit in the second period with goals 16 seconds apart from Jakob Silfverberg and Rickard Rakell. Jonathan Bernier made 37 saves, while Rakell's two-goal performance pushed his team lead in goals to 26. Sami Vatanen and Patrick Eaves tacked on goals in the third period for Anaheim, which enters tonight's game two points behind the Edmonton Oilers for second place in the Pacific Division.
"We're not going to score five goals every night, but it's nice once in a while to get those," said Ryan Kesler. "This team needs to focus on winning 1-0 and 2-1 games, and really getting into that playoff mindset right now."
Joseph Cramarossa makes his return to Anaheim just four days after being claimed off waivers by the Canucks. The 24-year-old left wing made his Canucks debut on Thursday at San Jose and fought Michael Haley in the first period, and appeared in his second game last night in LA. Sven Baertschi scored twice in Vancouver's 4-3 victory over the Kings, while Henrik Sedin and newcomer Nikolay Goldobin also found the back of the net to end the club's four-game losing streak. Though a ticket to the playoffs appears to be a longshot, Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle knows the Canucks will come out with plenty to prove.
"They have a staple of players that are going to compete," he said. "They've got a proud group. You respect the opposition, but we need to make sure we're ready to play the proper way."
Kesler adds, "Guys are vying for jobs next year, but we have to worry about ourselves. We need to play a heavy game with a defense-first mentality."