By Kyle Shohara
With one last game before they return to the comforts of Southern California, the Ducks will have to dig deep if they are to come out of this five-game road trip with four wins. Following last night’s 2-1 victory at Bell Centre in Montreal, the Ducks boarded the plane for a 30-minute flight into Ottawa, arriving at their hotel at approximately 3 a.m. Tonight also marks the second set of back-to-backs on this current road trip. Needless to say, the Ducks aren’t being given any favors.
Tonight's game wraps up Anaheim's sixth set of back-to-back games through the first two months of the regular season. The Ducks are 6-4-1 in back-to-back games thus far, including a 3-2-0 mark in the second contest. Dating to the start of the 2013-14 season, Anaheim is 25-9-4 in back-to-back situations and 14-3-2 in the second game, an NHL best by win percentage (.789).
But who starts in net against the Ottawa Senators tonight remains uncertain. If Frederik Andersen is summoned, it would mark his 21st consecutive start – the most since Jonas Hiller’s 32 straight from January-March, 2012. Or will it be “Mr. Universe” himself, Ilya Bryzgalov?
Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau had expressed his desire to start Bryzgalov in one of the two final games of this road trip. Bryzgalov made his Ducks debut on Tuesday night in Toronto, a relief appearance in Anaheim’s 6-2 loss.
SILFVERBERG FACES FORMER TEAM
It’s been a year-and-a-half since the Ducks made a trade to acquire Jakob Silfverberg, prospect Stefan Noesen and a 2014 first-round draft pick (Nick Ritchie) from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Bobby Ryan. The 24-year-old Silfverberg has earned 39 points (14g/25a) in 86 games with the Ducks and tonight marks his second visit to the place he called home for his rookie season in 2012-13.
Silfverberg hopes this time around will be better than the first time, when he suffered a broken hand on a slash from Sens defenseman Jared Cowen in October of last season. He missed eight weeks due to the injury.
Silfverberg has appeared in every game this season, recording 16 points (4g/12a), including six (3g/3a) in his past nine games.
Ryan ranks third on the Senators with 19 points (7g/12a) in 28 games. His goal on Dec. 11 against the LA Kings will surely be a nomination for Goal of the Year.
In his first six NHL seasons (all with Anaheim), Ryan collected 289 points (147g/142a) and a plus-40 rating in 378 games.
Anaheim owns a 14-7-4 all-time record against Ottawa, including a 7-4-1 mark in Canada's capital city. The Ducks have won a club-record four consecutive games at Canadian Tire Centre dating to Jan. 19, 2006. Overall, Anaheim has won four straight over Ottawa and are 8-1-1 in the last 10 games. The club's only win streak longer than the current four-game streak vs. the Senators was five consecutive wins from Mar. 13, 1994-Mar. 5, 1997. Ryan Getzlaf (4-6=10) and Dany Heatley (3-7=10) co-lead active Ducks players in career scoring vs. Ottawa, while Ryan Kesler leads in goals (5). Tonight's marks the opener of a two-game season set for the Ducks and Senators. These two teams will meet up again on Feb. 25 at Honda Center to conclude their season series.
Since Dec. 1, the Ducks lead the NHL in wins (8-1-0) and are third in goals scored (30, excluding shootout goals). Among December league leaders, Getzlaf leads in scoring (3-10=13) and assists, while Kesler is tied for fifth in goals (5). Among NHL defensemen, Sami Vatanen co-leads in goals (4) and Andersen leads NHL goaltenders in wins (8-1-0).
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Prior to last night’s game at Montreal, the Canadiens held a touching tribute to their former captain, Saku Koivu, that included testimonials from fans, former teammates and staff, and a cancer survivor who thanked Koivu for all that he has done in the fight against cancer.