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Preview: Ducks Host Blackhawks in Afternoon Tilt at Honda Center

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara /

The Ducks (32-21-12, 76 points) continue a four-game homestand today against the Chicago Blackhawks (28-29-8, 64 points) at Honda Center. (1 p.m. PT, TV: Prime Ticket, Radio: AM 830).

Anaheim's push for the playoffs has seen the club go 5-1-1 in its last seven games and 7-2-2 in its last 11. Over the past 30 games, the Ducks have gone 18-8-4 and have points in seven consecutive home games (5-0-2) while going 9-1-2 over their last 12 here at Honda Center.

Currently sitting in the second wild card spot with 76 points, the Ducks can climb into third place in the Pacific Division with a win this afternoon. They would leapfrog the Kings (77 points), who lost yesterday in astonishing fashion to the Blackhawks. (More on that later).

The Ducks are coming off a 4-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday that featured a shorthanded breakaway goal from Andrew Cogliano - his 18th career SHG and 15th as a Duck, one shy of the franchise record set by Paul Kariya. Defenseman Josh Manson scored the eventual game winner on a breakaway of his own 90 seconds after Cogliano's goal. John Gibson returned to the lineup for the first time since February 19 and turned in a 34-save performance to improve his record to 13-4-2 in his last 19 decisions.

This concludes the three-game season series between the former 2015 Western Conference Final rivals and the lone game held at Honda Center. The Ducks own a 48-32-11 all-time record vs. the Blackhawks, having won three of the last four games dating to March 9, 2017. The 2017-18 season series has seen both clubs earn wins at United Center, including a 7-3 triumph for Chicago on November 27 and a 3-2 Ducks win on February 15. Corey Perry, who made his NHL debut along with Ryan Getzlaf on October 5, 2005 against the Blackhawks, leads active Ducks with 32 points (15g/17a) in 43 games vs. Chicago. Meanwhile, Ryan Kesler has points in four of his last six games vs. Chicago, earning a goal and three assists dating to Nov. 27, 2015 at Honda Center.

The Blackhawks are finishing off a back-to-back set that saw them take two crucial points away from the Kings at STAPLES Center. Down 3-1 in the third period, the Blackhawks scored four consecutive goals in the last 10 minutes of regulation to pull off a stunning 5-3 victory, snapping the club's seven-game road losing streak. The comeback started when Kings defenseman Drew Doughty was whistled for a hooking penalty that turned into a double-minor when he lashed out at the officials while sitting in the penalty box. Artem Anisimov cut the deficit to 3-2 on the back half of the four-minute power play and Vinnie Hinostroza tied it less than four minutes later. Jonathan Toews scored the go-ahead goal on another power play with 1:58 remaining in regulation and Patrick Kane scored into an empty net with three seconds left on the clock.

In a season marked by more lows than highs (the Blackhawks enter today's game 12 points behind Anaheim for the second wild card), the comeback evoked memories from the past when the Blackhawks were seemingly never out of a game no matter how large the deficit was. Things are different this season, as the club will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Blackhawks stalwarts Kane and Toews each had three-point performances in the victory yesterday, and for Kane (62 points this season), it marked the tenth 60-point season of his career. Kane joined Washington's Alex Ovechkin as the only two players to reach 60 points in every season since 2007 (excluding the shortened 2012-13 campaign).

Something to keep in mind - the Blackhawks are 9-0-0 all-time when Kane and Toews have three or more points in a game and 75-6-4 when the two each score a goal in the same game including an eye-opening 42 consecutive victories. Rookie forward Alex DeBrincat became the fourth Blackhawks player to hit the 40-point mark this season, joining Kane, Toews and Nick Schmaltz. With a goal on February 12 vs. Arizona, DeBrincat became the eighth player in franchise history to record 20 goals or more in a season at 20 years of age or younger.

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