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Preview: Ducks Open Weekend Back-to-Back Tonight in Minnesota

by Matt Weller @MattWeller_ / AnaheimDucks.com

The Ducks are ready to brace for the winter weather on a two-game upper midwest road trip, tonight taking on the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center (5 p.m.; TV: Bally Sports SoCal; Radio: AM 830 KLAA).

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Anaheim is currently second in the tight Pacific Division (19-13-7, 45 points) in points, three behind first-place Vegas, but fourth by point percentage (.577). Minnesota sits fourth in the Central (21-10-2, 44 points).

The Ducks hope to welcome back their newly named All-Star netminder, John Gibson, after the 28-year-old missed three games in the NHL's COVID-19 protocol. Gibson earned his third All-Star Game nod and currently ranks fifth in the league in saves (794).

Gibson will represent Anaheim next month in Las Vegas and could be joined by winger Troy Terry, who is on the ballot for the "Last Men In" competition. Terry is sixth among league leaders in goals (22), tied for fourth in even-strength goals (16) and tied for second in game-winning goals (four).

Cast your vote for Terry here.

The Ducks and Wild renew acquitances tonight for the final contest of a three-game season series. The clubs met for two thrilling matchups in the opening weeks of the season, both won by Minnesota in the game's final moments. 

The Wild began their 2021-22 campaign at Honda Center, playing the better part of 59 minutes tied with the Ducks before Marcus Foligno beat the buzzer, scoring the game-winning goal on a rebound opportunity with eight seconds to play. Eight days later, the Wild did it again, earning an extra standings point on Ryan Hartman's OT-winner with 13 seconds remaining in the bonus period.

Kicking off a two-game back-to-back midwest roadtrip, the Ducks will look to flip the script at a building in which they have not enjoyed much recent success. Anaheim has lost five straight at XCel Energy Center dating to the beginning of the 2020-21 season while Minnesota again boasts one of the NHL's best records on home ice (11-3-1).

Minnesota hosts Anaheim for the club's first game in nearly a week following a postponed trip to Canada. The Wild earned a gritty 3-2 shootout win over the Capitals on Saturday, beating one of the league's best teams despite missing nine regulars to injuries and the NHL's COVID-19 protocol.

Minnesota will get back Jordan Greenway and Brandon Duhaime, who scored his first career NHL goal against the Ducks earlier this season, for tonight's game, but will not return center Joel Eriksson Ek, who entered the protocol yesterday after missing three games with an upper-body injury.

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