By Kyle Shohara
The Ducks open a brief two-game road trip tonight against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. In fact, tonight marks the club’s first game outside of California since Nov. 20 at Vancouver. Since then the Ducks have played five times at Honda Center and once at San Jose.
Anaheim’s newest acquisition, defenseman Colby Robak, skated with the team this morning and will wear No. 48. Robak was acquired yesterday for defenseman Jesse Blacker and a conditional draft pick. The conditional draft pick could either be a fourth-round pick in 2016, or sixth-round selection in 2017. Robak, 24, collected three assists with 25 penalty minutes in 42 career NHL games with Florida.
Selected by Florida in the second round (46th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Robak won gold with Team Canada at the 2008 Under-18 IIHF World Championship. The Dauphin, Manitoba native also appeared in 268 career American Hockey League games with Rochester (2010-11) and San Antonio (2011-14), earning 29-78=107 points and 126 penalty minutes.
The Ducks might also see the return of defenseman Mark Fistric tonight. Fistic hasn’t played since Oct. 30, but took part in regular line rushes this morning. Fistric would be a welcome addition, as the Ducks are ailing on the backend with Ben Lovejoy (fractured finger), Francois Beauchemin (fractured finger) and Eric Brewer (broken foot) all out of the lineup.
Goaltender Frederik Andersen is expected to make his 14th consecutive start in net tonight. His current 13-game stretch is the most by a Ducks netminder since Jonas Hiller started a club-record 32 straight from Jan. 12-March 18, 2012. Andersen enters tonight’s action ranked tied for seventh in wins (12).
TALE OF THE TAPE
Anaheim and Minnesota play the second game a three-game season series this evening at Xcel Energy Center. The Ducks opened their home schedule with a 2-1 victory over the Wild on Oct. 17 at Honda Center, led by Corey Perry's 51st career game-winning goal at 11:35 of the third period. Andrew Cogliano scored his ninth career shorthanded goal – his sixth as a Duck – to tie the game, 1-1, at 4:02 of the third period, while Andersen stopped 27-of-28 shots to earn his fourth consecutive win (4-0-0). All-time, the Ducks are 25-17-9 vs. the Wild and 9-9-7 on the road.
Anaheim has won six of the last seven games dating to the start of the 2012-13 season. Leading the way is Perry, who has a team-best 17-15=32 points in 33 career games against Minnesota. In addition, the Ducks have won a franchise-best four consecutive games at Xcel Energy Center dating to a 3-2 victory on Oct. 27, 2011.
MUMPS IN MINNESOTA
After an earlier bout with mumps a few months ago, the virus appears to have returned (if it ever left) and this time it felled Minnesota’s No. 1 defenseman Ryan Suter. He missed his first game of the season on Wednesday vs. Montreal and he will not play tonight, though he took part in the morning skate.
Ironically, the virus has only affected Wild defensemen. Marco Scandella missed two games, Christian Folin was out for five, Jonas Brodin missed seven and Keith Ballard was forced to sit for eight.
“We’re doing everything we can,” Wild head coach Mike Yeo said to the Star Tribune. “But at the same time, we can’t be sitting around thinking about the mumps. We play a pretty darn good hockey team [tonight].”
Ryan Getzlaf leads Anaheim in scoring (8-17=25) and assists, and has nine multi-point games in 25 games this season. Getzlaf has points/assists in his last four games, recording 2-4=6 since Nov. 29 at San Jose.
Ryan Kesler has 6-12=18 points in his first 27 games as a Duck, including 3-7=10 points in his last 13.
Perry, who has scored 14 goals in 21 games this season, ranks fifth among NHL leaders in goals.
Sami Vatanen already has a career-high seven goals, career-tying 21 points and a career-high four power-play goals in 27 games this season. Vatanen is tied for fifth among league leaders in power-play points (4-8=12, co-leading NHL defensemen), ranks tied for second among defensemen in scoring (7-14=21) and goals and ranks tied for sixth in assists by a defenseman. Vatanen enters tonight's game with points in three straight (2-1=3), 4-10=14 in his last 14 games and is one point shy of surpassing his career high set in 2013-14 (6-15=21). Last month, he led the team in scoring (2-10=12) and assists and ranked tied for third in scoring and tied for second in assists among NHL defenesmen.
Matt Beleskey has a career-high 12 goals in only 27 games and has 5-1=6 points in his last eight games. Beleskey, who had a team-leading six goals in November, is currently tied for seventh among league leaders in goals.
Cam Fowler is riding a three-game point streak (1-2=3), one shy of matching his career high (last: Oct. 13-19, 2014; 0-4=4).