By Kyle Shohara
Perhaps the timing was right for the Ducks to leave town for a few days. Mired in a slump in which the team has won just once in its past six games (1-4-1), the Ducks traveled north of the border for a set of back to backs against the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.
Line rushes this morning at Scotiabank Saddledome mirrored those used in practice yesterday. Ryan Getzlaf centered a line with Patrick Maroon and Kyle Palmieri, while Getzlaf’s usual winger, Corey Perry, skated on a line with Devante Smith-Pelly and Ryan Kesler.
The last time the dynamic duo was split up was during the Feb. 12 game at Carolina, and it took all of one shift to pay dividends. Perry was moved to the second line with Kesler and Matt Beleskey, which directly led to the goal that tied the score at one apiece. Anaheim went on to win, 2-1.
“Once they both find their game, we’ll be much better and we won’t be talking about this anymore,” Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau said yesterday. Getzlaf is scoreless in his last four games and has four points (2g/2a) in his last nine, while Perry has one goal in his last five.
Boudreau also labeled young defenseman Hampus Lindholm as a “game-time decision,” and confirmed Clayton Stoner will be in the lineup despite not taking part in the morning skate. Stoner is expected to play alongside rookie Josh Manson, who was recalled on Tuesday.
John Gibson will make his fourth consecutive start, and the first of his career against Calgary. Gibson has appeared in eight games this season, fashioning a 3-4-0 record, 2.94 goals-against average and .907 save percentage.
Tonight marks the fourth game of a five-game season series between the two clubs. The Ducks lead the series with a 2-0-1 record, including a 6-3 win on Jan. 21 and a 3-2 victory on Nov. 25 at Honda Center. On Nov. 18, the Flames earned a 4-3 shootout victory at the Saddledome, with Jonas Hiller earning his first win against his former team.
Hiller, by the way, will start for the Flames tonight, who embark on a seven-game road trip after the game.
“To get out of this rut, it’s not going to take us beating someone we’re expected to beat,” said Palmieri. “We want to go out and beat a team that’s playing well. Calgary is the team we’re going to try and do that against.”
“This is probably one of the biggest games of the season,” said Andrew Cogliano, who will be playing in his 599th consecutive game tonight. The current active Iron Man leader hasn’t missed a game in his entire NHL career.
“They’re a very good team that’s been playing really well,” adds Tim Jackman, whom the Ducks acquired from Calgary on Nov. 21, 2013. “They’re stingy, quick and fast. We need to be disciplined, and that means staying out of the penalty box. It’s a tough barn to play in, so hopefully we can get two points.”
The Ducks say this road trip came at a good time, as it allows them the opportunity to focus solely on their game.
“We’re excited to be back on the road and getting back to the hockey that we know how to play,” said Jackman.
“We need to take a deep breath,” said Cogliano. “We’ve played well before and have had great stretches during the season, so it’s not like we haven’t done it before. It’s about getting back to that and figuring out what we were doing that made us successful.”