By Kyle Shohara
The Ducks close out their two-game road trip this afternoon in Winnipeg, with puck drop slated for noon PT. Anaheim is looking to earn its fourth consecutive win and seventh in its past nine games.
They’ll have to dig deep, as yesterday it was announced that the club’s leading goal scorer, Corey Perry, suffered a knee injury in Friday’s game and will be further evaluated when the team returns to Anaheim.
“It’s a little stiff, but it’ll heal,” said Perry. “I’ve done it to the other leg, so I’ve been through it. It’s just going to take a little bit of time.”
Perry was injured on a hip check delivered by Minnesota Wild defenseman Keith Ballard at the 9:40 mark of the first period in Anaheim’s 5-4 victory at Xcel Energy Center on Friday night. Perry needed assistance off the ice and did not return to the game. Perry, who ranks second on the team with 22 points, also missed five games last month due to the mumps virus.
“I saw him coming and I had nowhere to go,” said Perry. “He just got me in an awkward position. I had no real estate and nowhere to go, so he hit me.”
Yesterday, the Ducks also announced that the team had recalled center Rickard Rakell from Norfolk of the American Hockey League. Rakell has three assists with an even plus/minus rating and four penalty minutes in 17 games with the Ducks this season. Reassigned to Norfolk on Dec. 2, Rakell appeared in two games with the Admirals this week, collecting four points (1g/3a) points with a plus-3 rating. In addition, the Ducks reassigned defenseman Mat Clark to Norfolk.
“If I was him and I had just gone to the minors and played two games, then bussed up to Springfield, which is 13 hours, I’m going to play my butt off and not go back there again,” said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. “He played two games and played really well. That boded well for his confidence. Now he’s coming back not doubting himself, at least that’s the hope.”
ON THE JETS
Anaheim’s opponent is the much-improved Jets, a team that manhandled the Colorado Avalanche two nights ago in a 6-2 victory at MTS Centre. The Jets enter today’s contest riding a two-game winning streak and have found victories in four of their past five games. Jets forward Bryan Little recorded a hat trick as part of a four-point night, and the three-goal performance served as the Jets’ first hat trick since their return to Winnipeg in 2011.
Since relocating to Winnipeg (from Atlanta) prior to the 2011-12 season, the Jets have yet to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’ll be a fight to the finish this season for Winnipeg, which currently sits fourth in the Central Division and eighth in the Western Conference with a 14-9-4 record (32 points).
Flying the Jets are Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little, all of whom enter today’s game with 19 points. Of the three, Little leads the squad with 11 goals, while Wheeler paces the club with 11 assists. The trio combined for four goals and 10 points in Friday’s 6-2 victory over Colorado.
Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec is expected to get the start in net this afternoon. The 27-year-old enters the match with a 9-8-2 record, 2.21 goals-against average and .919 save percentage.
Ducks forward Nate Thompson says Pavelec’s athleticism is a sight to behold. “He’s one of those goalies who can scramble to make the big save,” said Thompson. “He’s one of those goalies who battles out there. Over the years I’ve played against him, he really plays hard in net. You have to make sure you have second and third chances. You have to create traffic.”
Jets center Mathieu Perreault played with the Ducks last season, collecting 43 points in 69 games.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf and Jets captain Andrew Ladd were teammates on the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League for two seasons (2003-04, 2004-05.) Getzlaf and Ladd also won a gold medal representing Canada (along with Corey Perry) in the 2005 World Junior Championship.
Andrew Cogliano and Bryan Little won a gold medal in the 2007 World Junior Championship with Canada.
Cam Fowler and Blake Wheeler were teammates on the 2014 U.S. Olympic team that competed in Sochi, Russia.