Two nights ago, the Ducks were able to pull off an impressive victory over an Eastern Conference opponent that has found early success this season. Tonight, they'll look to do the same against the Carolina Hurricanes at Honda Center. (7 p.m. PT, TV: Prime Ticket, Radio: AM 830). The Ducks come in with a 5-2-0 record and a perfect 3-0 mark at home, while their opponent brings with them a 6-2-0 mark this season.
The Ducks have started their season with three straight home wins for the fourth time in franchise history and the first time since the 2014-15 campaign. One of the reasons why they've found success on home ice is the fan support they've received. Ducks head coach Dallas Eakins points to the first half of the opening period against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night as an example.
"That first period [against Buffalo] was ugly for about 12 minutes," Eakins said. "I've seen rinks that turn on their team, and they think that booing, yelling, screaming and turning on their team is supposed to inspire them. It doesn't. It does the exact opposite. Our fans stuck with us. They stuck with us. That helps everybody push through it. Through our first three games, the support has been unbelievable."
Anaheim's offense came to life that night, producing a season-high five goals in the win. The Ducks were led by the trio of Rickard Rakell (1g/1a, +2), Adam Henrique (2g, +4) and Jakob Silfverberg (1g/2a, +4), who combined for four of the five goals.
"We all feel like we got better," Rakell said. "We're hungry to create things when we're on the ice. We create a lot of things off good forechecks and turnovers. All of us feel like we can do more damage if we're able to create some longer attacks in the offensive zone. That's our mindset right now. We know we're going to get chances, but at the same time we want even more."
While their offense is starting to come around, a constant for the Ducks this season has been their defensive play. They enter tonight's game having allowed the fewest goals (12 GA) over the first seven games of a season in franchise history (previously 13 GA in 2006-07). They rank second among NHL clubs in goals allowed per game (1.71) and co-lead in third period GAA (0.43) and fewest goals allowed in the third period (3). John Gibson has been a dominant force in net, stopping 174 of 185 shots in his first six games of the season. Gibson is currently tied for the highest career save percentage (.922) among all-time NHL netminders with at least 200 games played. (Gibson joins Johnny Bower (.922), Ken Dryden (.922) and Dominik Hasek (.922) on the exclusive list).
The Ducks own a 21-14-3 all-time record vs. Carolina, including an 11-7-1 mark at home. They've won five of their last six against the Hurricanes dating to Nov. 10, 2016 (5-1-0) and have gone 8-2-0 in their last 10. The Ducks have also taken six of the last eight at home against Carolina dating to Nov. 25, 2009 (6-2-0). Henrique (14 points, 11g/3a in 26 games), Ryan Getzlaf (14 points, 6g/8a in 19 games) and Michael Del Zotto (14 assists/points in 30 games) co-lead active Ducks in career scoring against the Hurricanes.
Off to their best start through the first eight games in franchise history, the Hurricanes come to town with a 6-2-0 mark. They suffered their second loss of the season on Wednesday night in San Jose, a 5-2 setback. Carolina has gotten production from the blueline, as Dougie Hamilton enters tonight's game with five goals and nine points. Hamilton leads the club in scoring and paces NHL defensemen in goals. Goaltender Petr Mrazek boasts a 4-0 record, 1.94 GAA, .919 SV% and one shutout this season.