By Kyle Shohara
Expect a familiar defensive partner next to Cam Fowler tonight as the Ducks take on the Edmonton Oilers for the second time in three days. Earlier today it was announced that Ben Lovejoy, the anchor on the club’s top-pairing unit, will make his return to the lineup. Lovejoy has been out since Oct. 26 due to a fractured finger that sidelined him for 21 consecutive games.
With “The Rev” back in, expect Hampus Lindholm to be paired with Colby Robak, and Clayton Stoner with Sami Vatanen. Injured defenseman Francois Beauchemin (fractured finger) accompanied the team on this current five-game road trip, and head coach Bruce Boudreau said there’s “probably an outside chance” Beauchemin plays toward the end of the trip. Beauchemin joined the team approximately 20 minutes into the morning skate today at Rexall Place.
Frederik Andersen is expected to extend his career-long consecutive starting streak to 17 games, while former Duck Viktor Fasth is expected to go for Edmonton. Fasth played well in Edmonton’s 2-1 loss on Wednesday at Honda Center, stopping 32-of-34 shots.
Backing up Andersen is Jason LaBarbera, who was activated off injured reserve yesterday. LaBarbera missed five games due to a fractured hand.
Anaheim’s line combinations during the morning skate mirrored those used in Wednesday’s game.
Tonight concludes Anaheim’s home-and-home set vs. Edmonton and the second of a four-game series against its Pacific Division foe. The Ducks are 46-35-7 all-time vs. the Oilers, including 18-3-1 since Mar. 31, 2009. In Edmonton, the Ducks have won 11 of the last 13 games (11-1-1) and are 20-19-4 overall at Rexall Place. Ryan Kesler leads active Ducks skaters in career scoring vs. Edmonton, earning 36 points (10g/26a) in 52 games. Kesler’s goal in Wednesday’s game was his 10th of the season and fourth (4g/1a) in his last three games. Kesler ranks second on the team in points (23) and third in goals.
These two teams will meet again on Saturday, Feb. 21 in Edmonton before concluding the season series at Honda Center on Wednesday, April 1.
IN THE FIRST MEETING…
The Ducks improved their record 19-6-5 with the victory. Anaheim currently leads the league in standings points (43) and ranks tied for second in wins (19).
Andersen recorded his 15th win of the season, stopping 21-of-22 shots, stretching his career high consecutive start streak to 16, the most by an Anaheim goaltender since Jonas Hiller started a club-record 32 straight from Jan. 12-Mar. 18, 2012. He also earned his third career NHL assist, second of the season, on Kesler’s second-period goal.
Hampus Lindholm collected an assist on Kesler’s goal to extend his point/assist streak to a career-high four games (4a). Lindholm now has 13 points (3g/10a) this season.
Matt Beleskey scored his career-best 14th goal of the season, giving him six points (5g/1a) in his last eight games and 16 points (14g/2a) overall this season. He ranks tied for eighth among NHL leaders and co-leads the team in goals (with Corey Perry).
Kyle Palmieri notched his third assist of the season to push his point streak to a career-tying three games (1g/3a).