By Kyle Shohara
The Ducks can finally enjoy the comforts of home for more than a few days, as the team opens a three-game homestand tonight against the New York Islanders (7 p.m. PT, FOX Sports West, AM 830).
Tonight will be just the 13th home game of the season, and 33rd overall for Anaheim. Fortunately for the Ducks, Honda Center has been a place of dominance, as the team remains the only club in the league without a regulation loss at home (10-0-2). Captain Ryan Getzlaf said the consistency of home success really started to blossom last season.
“That’s something we wanted to build here, and I think we started it last year,” he said. “We make it a tough building to come into. Our fans have done a great job showing up every night and participating in everything. It helps us get motivated.”
Said defenseman Mark Fistric, “Playing at Honda Center in front of our own fans and going home to your family and not at a hotel, and having home-cooked meals, is a great thing. We enjoy being home.”
The Ducks will enjoy the comforts even more if they can take down a New York Islanders squad that’s winless in its last nine road games. The Islanders’ last road victory came on Nov. 1 (5-4 shootout win at Ottawa). But head coach Bruce Boudreau is well aware of how dangerous the Isles can be.
“I see a lot of speed on a talented team that’s snakebit right now,” he said. “They’ve had four shorthanded breakaways in the last three games. They just haven’t been able to put it in. If they score one in L.A., it’s probably a different game. If they score in Pittsburgh, they probably come out winning two of the last three. But, when you’re snakebit, you need that break.
“Hopefully it doesn’t come tonight, but when they do, we know they’re good enough to turn it around and go on a streak like they did last year. We’re well aware of them and their speed.”
Jonas Hiller is expected to get the start tonight. Hiller is 10-4-4 with a 2.60 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in 19 appearances this season. In his career against the Islanders, Hiller is 1-0-0 with a 1.78 GAA in four appearances.
GLASS CASE OF EMOTION
Fistric went from sheer jubilation to disbelief to disappointment in a matter of seconds after his apparent overtime goal in Friday’s game in Chicago was disallowed. The goal would’ve been his first career tally in overtime and the second game-winning goal of his career (his first came as a member of the Stars on Dec. 28, 2010 at Nashville).
So it was only fitting the following night in St. Louis when the puck found his stick with time winding down in regulation. After Andrew Cogliano corralled a loose puck in the defensive zone and found Fistric alone as he stepped out of the penalty box, the veteran defenseman wristed it into an empty net just outside the blueline, giving the Ducks the insurance goal in their 5-2 victory over the Blues. It was a feel-good moment for Fistric and the rest of the team.
“The Hockey Gods kind of took care of me there,” he said. “I’m just glad Cogs had his head up and found me. I was excited.”
This is the first of two games between the New York Islanders and Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks defeated the Islanders 4-2 at Honda Center on Jan. 6, 2012 with three third-period goals. Anaheim is 9-10-5 in its all-time series against the Islanders.
The Ducks will play in Long Island on Dec. 21 as part of a four-game Eastern Conference road trip.