By Kyle Shohara
With this being Presidents’ Day in the United States and Family Day in a handful of provinces in Canada (including Alberta), the Ducks will take on the Calgary Flames this afternoon at Scotiabank Saddledome (1 p.m. PT). It is one of two games on the NHL schedule taking place in the daytime hours, with the other being the Detroit-New York Islanders game slated for 10 a.m. PT.
The Ducks are in search of their ninth win in their past 11 games. Their most recent victory came two nights ago in Chicago when they skated to a 3-2 overtime win over the Blackhawks courtesy of a Ryan Getzlaf game-winner on the power play. The victory was well-deserved. Anaheim outshot the Blackhawks, 44-23, and limited Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to a single point (Kane, assist on Brent Seabrook’s PPG).
“It was obviously a confidence booster,” said Corey Perry. “You look at all the games against Chicago this year, and they've all gone to overtime and all have been close. They’ve all been tight checking. Not a lot of room out there. We played our style of game. We gave them very little. These are the games we have to play going down the stretch.”
Currently holding a six-point lead on fourth-place Arizona (and fifth-place Vancouver), the Ducks (62 pts.) can surpass San Jose (63 pts.) for sole possession of second place in the division, and come within five points of Los Angeles (69 pts).
This marks the fifth game of Anaheim’s season-long seven-game, 13-day road trip that continues tomorrow in Edmonton and concludes Thursday in Vancouver. When all is said and done, the Ducks will have traveled over 7,300 miles.
Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen says finishing the trip with three crucial games against divisional opponents is a good thing.
“We managed to get some points and set ourselves up for these last three games,” Andersen said. “We can come into these games with a really good focus on divisional teams here. These are going to be tough games.”
Anaheim has earned standings points in nine of the last 10 games (8-1-1, 17 pts.), 11 of its last 13 (10-2-1, 21 pts.) and gone 15-4-2 in the last 21 since the Christmas holiday break (tied for the best mark in the NHL by points percentage with Washington). The Ducks have also earned points in 10 of the last 11 road games (7-1-3, 17 pts.).
The early start time for today’s game meant no morning skate for the Ducks. Andersen could get the start, but reports from practice yesterday didn’t rule out the possibility of John Gibson, either. Gibson left the game after the second period on Saturday with an upper-body injury after he was bowled over by Blackhawks forward Richard Panik. The Ducks recalled Anton Khudobin from San Diego yesterday, and he’ll dress in place of Gibson if necessary.
Former Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller will get the start for Calgary. Hiller has gone 8-6-1 with a 3.04 goals-against average and .894 save percentage in 18 games this season. Backing up Hiller will be Joni Ortio, who was recalled from Stockton of the AHL on Friday because of an undisclosed injury to No. 1 netminder Karri Ramo in Thursday’s game against San Jose. Ramo has since been placed on injured reserve.
The Ducks know their opponent quite well, having played them twice already this season (both victories) and five times during a second-round playoff series last year. This marks the third of a five-game regular season series against their division rivals.
“We’ve played them a lot these last couple of seasons,” said Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm. “We know they have a very active [defense]. I think their defense is where they create a lot of offense during the rush. There are a couple of skilled guys you have to be aware of, but we play them so much we know how we have to play to be successful.”