After enjoying the comforts of four-game homestand, the Ducks are in Nashville for the start of a two-game road trip that begins tonight against the Predators at Bridgestone Arena (5 p.m. PT, Prime Ticket, AM 830).
The Ducks sit atop the league standings with an NHL-best 32-8-5 record (69 points). They hold a two-point lead on the Chicago Blackhawks, who lost to the New York Rangers last night. The Ducks have a game in-hand on the Blackhawks, who they’ll face on Jan. 17 at United Center.
Shortly after touching down in Nashville yesterday, the Ducks held a practice instead of the usual team stretch at the hotel. Head coach Bruce Boudreau admits his superstitions partly led to the decision to practice.
"The first four trips we made back East, there was the same kind of travel and we just had stretches and light workouts at the team hotel. And we lost all four games," he said. "We've had success with it, so being the superstitous guy I am, we'll continue to do it. There's no grouchiness [from the players], and that comes with winning.
"It was a simple thing — 'Okay, this isn't working' — we were wondering why we were coming out flat and were like, we don't know if this is the answer, or if it's mental, or just fortunate stuff. But we tried something different."
While there is no team better than the Ducks at home (at 18-0-2, they still remain the only team undefeated in regulation on home ice), their road success isn’t far behind. They enter tonight’s game tied with Chicago for the most road wins in the league (14). In fact, Anaheim has won six of its last seven road games (6-1-0) and has earned points in seven of the last eight (6-1-1). With a 14-8-3 road record, the Ducks also co-lead the NHL in road points (31).
The Predators enter tonight’s contest in 11th place in the Western Conference with 44 points, seven away from eighth-place Phoenix. Nashville was riding a three-game losing streak (0-1-2) until they defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-2 two nights ago.
Frederik Andersen is expected to get the start in net tonight against the Predators. The rookie netminder’s last appearance was on Dec. 29 at San Jose, a 3-1 loss to the Sharks. Andersen became the third goaltender in NHL history to earn nine or more wins in his first 10 starts, joining Boston’s Frank Brimsek (9-1-0, Nov. 3-Dec. 20, 1938) and Philadelphia’s Bob Froese (9-0-1, Jan. 8-Feb. 2, 1983).
EXPECTED LINE COMBINATIONS
Matt Beleskey - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Kyle Palmieri - Mathieu Perreault - Teemu Selanne
Andrew Cogliano - Saku Koivu - Daniel Winnik
Patrick Maroon - Nick Bonino - Tim Jackman
Cam Fowler - Ben Lovejoy
Hampus Lindholm - Francois Beauchemin
Mark Fistric - Sami Vatanen
Dustin Penner will not play in tonight’s game due to an upper-body injury, according to head coach Bruce Boudreau.
In addition to being 19-3-4 when scoring the first goal, the Ducks are a league-best 13-5-1 (.711) when their opponent scores first. No other NHL team owns a .500-or-better record when allowing the first goal.
Anaheim and Nashville open a three-game season series tonight at Bridgestone Arena. The Ducks are 30-18-7 vs. the Predators, including a 10-13-4 mark in Nashville. Last year, Anaheim swept its three-game season series vs. Nashville (3-0-0). The season series will feature an additional game in Nashville on Feb. 8 before the finale on Apr. 4 at Honda Center.