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Preview: Ducks Open Road Trip vs. Conference-Leading Predators

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara /

The Ducks (34-21-12, 80 points) open a two-game road trip tonight against the Western Conference-leading Nashville Predators (43-14-9, 95 points) at Bridgestone Arena. (5 p.m. PT, TV: Prime Ticket, Radio: AM 830). Anaheim comes in riding a three-game winning streak and has a 7-1-1 mark over its last nine games (tied for third in the NHL since February 15) along with a league-best 1.78 goals-against average per game since that date.

The Ducks have gone 15-6-3 since their bye week and have points in 24 of their last 32 games since December 21 (20-8-4). On the road, Anaheim has won three of its last four (3-1-0) and four of its last six (4-2-0). This opens the club's penultimate set of back-to-backs, which concludes tomorrow night in Dallas (5:30 p.m. PT).

Assist-wizard Ryan Getzlaf enters tonight's matchup with eight helpers in the last three games he has appeared in, which tied a team record. He has accomplished the feat twice previously, most recently from March 20-24, 2011 (eight assists). Getzlaf has nine points in his last three games and 12 points (2g/10a) in his last six. Rickard Rakell has six goals and eight points in his last four games, while defenseman Josh Manson brings a three-game point streak (four points, 1g/3a) into tonight's game.

This is a crucial road trip for the Ducks, who are coming off a 4-0 victory against the Washington Capitals at Honda Center on Tuesday. After finishing off their four-game homestand with three consecutive wins, the Ducks face the league's hottest team tonight and a Stars team fighting for its playoff lives tomorrow.

Sitting atop the Western Conference with 95 points, the Predators have already surpassed their point total from last season. But what is even more impressive is how they've gotten there. They enter tonight's game riding a franchise-best nine-game winning streak, which featured a 2-0 victory over the Stars on Tuesday. Pekka Rinne made 26 saves for his seventh shutout of the season, tying his career high and placing him in a tie with Tampa Bay's Andrei Vasilevskiy for the league lead this season. It also marked the 50th shutout of his career. Since January 1, the veteran netminder has gone 17-2-1 with a 2.03 goals-against average, .934 save percentage and four shutouts.

Mike Fisher, once retired but not anymore, made his home debut in the win over the Stars and made his season debut on March 2 at Vancouver. Ryan Hartman, acquired from Chicago on February 26, has two goals and three points in five games with the Predators. Both of his goals have been game winners.

Tonight's contest puts the finishing touches on the three-game season series between the Ducks and Predators. The Ducks have a 38-23-8 all-time record against the Predators, including a 13-16-5 mark at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville has victories in the first two games of the season series - a 5-3 win on November 3 at Honda Center and a 3-2 shootout victory at home on December 2. Getzlaf leads active Ducks in career scoring against Nashville with 40 points (12g/28a) in 36 games. Rakell is riding a two-game point streak (1g/1a) along with six points (3g/3a) in the last six meetings against the Preds. Defenseman Cam Fowler has points in two straight against Nashville (1g/1a) and five points in his last five (1g/4a) against the Preds.

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