The Ducks close out the calendar year with a rematch against the San Jose Sharks tonight at Honda Center (5 p.m. PT, Prime Ticket, AM 830).
Tonight’s game will be the conclusion of a home-and-home series against a Sharks squad that came out victorious two nights ago in San Jose by a score of 3-1. The loss snapped a 10-game winning streak for Anaheim, a club record. The Ducks were the first team to win 10 in a row since Pittsburgh from Mar. 2-30, 2013 (15), and just the third team from the Western Conference to win 10 straight since the 2005-06 season (start of the shootout era), joining Chicago (11) in 2012-13 and San Jose (11) in 2007-08.
“You never like losing, especially to a rival like that,” said Cam Fowler. “It’s a chance at redemption, and something we’ll be ready for. We know the type of game they play. They come at you at a lot of different ways with a lot of speed. We need to get off to a better start. We were down 1-0 two minutes into the game.”
The Ducks controlled most of the game from the second period on, and forward Nick Bonino hopes that momentum will carry over into tonight’s contest.
“It’s almost like once our backs are against the wall, we start playing,” he said. “Second and third periods we were in their zone, we outshot them and did everything we could, but we fell short. As long as we can play like that for a full 60, we’ll find more success.”
Head coach Bruce Boudreau likes to set weekly goals for his squad, and Fowler said opening a four-game homestand and ending the year with a win is a priority.
“You know Bruce, he’s always setting goals and looking at the schedule and what we need to do,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a much better way to end the year than with a big win against a really good hockey team. It’s something we’re striving for. We’ll be ready.”
Boudreau says his team will have to play a smart, structured hockey game with minimal mistakes in order to find success tonight.
“They’re in the upper echelon with the really good teams in the West, like Chicago, LA, St. Louis,” he said. “What you can get away with playing with a lesser team, you can’t get away with playing with those guys. You really have to batten down the hatches and play a proper hockey game. They play the same way all the time. They’ve got a great home record, and their road record isn’t as good, but that’s the same as us. We know how they play, and they know how we play. So it’s more of which team will execute better and is more determined to do the right things.”
Andrew Cogliano is expected to play in his 500th consecutive game tonight. The 26-year-old has not missed a game since his NHL debut with Edmonton on Oct. 4, 2007 and ranks third on the NHL’s active Ironman list. Cogliano ranks third only to St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester at 673 and Vancouver Canucks forward Henrik Sedin at 670.
And while he’s not the household name that players like Getzlaf, Perry and Selanne have been in Anaheim for years, Boudreau maintains he’s been a vital part of the Ducks’ success.
“He’s right up there with the MVP-type thing,” Boudreau said. “He consistently comes to play every night, and he always has energy even when the team doesn’t. He does the right things, he trains the right way. He’s never going to be flashy and be a 40-goal scorer. But when he’s on the ice, you know he’s there because he’s hounding the puck all the time.
“The 500 games is a testament. He’s a tough kid. He got his teeth knocked out last year and didn’t miss a shift. He took some knee shots last year when I thought he was done. He tapes it up and comes back to play. That’s all based on his training, because it’s so good.”
ON THIS NEW YEAR'S EVE
The Ducks will play their 13th New Year's Eve game in club history tonight vs. San Jose, just the fifth Dec. 31 contest at Honda Center all-time. Anaheim's first New Year's Eve home game was on Dec. 31, 1995 vs. LA, a 2-2 tie. The Ducks did not host another New Year's Eve game again until Dec. 31, 2008 vs. Columbus, a 2-0 loss. The 1995 game was Anaheim's lone Dec. 31 contest during the club's first six seasons (note: the 1994-95 NHL season did not begin until Jan. 1995), and since that time, the Ducks have played 12 of the last 14 New Year's Eves (dating to Dec. 31, 1999), with the exceptions coming in the 2007-08 season and in 2012 (lockout).
Anaheim's most frequent Dec. 31 opponent has been Minnesota (three games), followed by Dallas and Columbus (two games each). The Ducks have played their last two New Year’s Eves (excluding 2012) at Honda Center, including 2011 vs. Colorado and 2010 vs. Philadelphia. Anaheim and San Jose have never previously met on Dec. 31.
Anaheim and San Jose play the second of a five-game season set tonight. The Ducks dropped a 4-3 shootout decision in the series opener on Nov. 30 at SAP Center. Anaheim has gone 52-52-10 all-time against San Jose, including a 27-25-5 mark in the Bay Area. The season series continues with a New Year’s Eve contest this Tuesday at Honda Center, while the final two games will be played on Mar. 20 in San Jose and Apr. 9 in Anaheim.