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Preview: Two Crucial Points on the Line as Ducks Host Oilers

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara /

After spending 10 days on the road, the Ducks (26-19-10, 62 points) open a brief two-game homestand beginning tonight against the Edmonton Oilers (23-25-4, 50 points) at Honda Center. (7 p.m. PT, TV: Prime Ticket, Radio: AM 830).

With points in five of their last seven games (4-2-1) and 14 of their last 20 (12-6-2), Anaheim enters tonight's game two points out of a playoff spot (2nd/3rd place in the Pacific Division and the second wild card spot). The club has won six of its last seven home games dating to December 29 vs. Calgary, scoring five goals or more three times.

With just 27 games remaining in the regular season, the Ducks know the time is now to make a run. "Points are hard to come by," said defenseman Josh Manson. "At this point of the season, they're even more important. We need to make sure we're desperate when we go on the ice here in the next stretch of games. Put ourselves in a good position."

Rickard Rakell comes in with nine points (4g/5a) over a five-game scoring streak, while Corey Perry has six points (2g/4a) on an active three-game point streak. Following tonight's game, the Ducks will close out their homestand on Sunday vs. the San Jose Sharks before embarking on a four-game road trip with stops in Detroit (February 13), Chicago (February 15), Minnesota (February 17) and Las Vegas (February 19).

It's been three days since the Ducks skated to a 4-3 overtime victory over the Buffalo Sabres in the finale of their five-game road trip. Adam Henrique provided the heroics, notching his team-leading fifth game-winning goal with the Ducks. Celebrating his 28th birthday that day, Henrique became the fastest player in franchise history to record five game winners to start a Ducks career, doing so in 30 games. (Marty McInnis held the previous mark - 37 games, 1998-99). Ondrej Kase assisted on the OT winner and scored his 14th goal of the season - second most on the club. Ryan Miller turned aside 30 of 33 shots for his seventh win of the season (7-4-5).

"You want to take the positive out of every game and try to carry it into the next game," said Chris Wagner, who ranks second in the NHL in hits (183). "We have a long history with Edmonton and it's always a good game when we play them."

It has been an uphill climb all season for the Oilers, who sit 14 points out of a playoff spot. Despite improved play as of late (5-2-1 in their last eight), the Oilers are well off their torrid pace from last season. Although captain Connor McDavid continues to do Connor McDavid things (ranking third in the league with 63 points (22g/41a) and posting a four-goal game on Monday vs. Tampa Bay), goaltender Cam Talbot has struggled to find consistency, going 19-18-2 with a 3.10 goals-against average and .902 save percentage. Milan Lucic has just nine goals in 52 games, while Ryan Strome, acquired last summer for Jordan Eberle (five-time 20-plus goal scorer), has seven goals in 52 games.

Edmonton is coming off a 5-2 defeat to the LA Kings on Wednesday at STAPLES Center, the opener of their three-game California road trip that concludes tomorrow night in San Jose. After falling behind, 2-0, the Oilers came back to tie the game with second-period goals from McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. But, with the game tied in the third period, the Kings scored three answered goals to earn two crucial points in a divisional matchup.

This is the second contest of a four-game season series between the Ducks and Oilers, and the first at Honda Center. The Ducks come in with a 55-36-11 all-time mark against the Oilers, including a 30-17-4 record in Orange County. Edmonton earned a 2-1 overtime victory in the series opener on January 2 at Rogers Place. Anaheim has points in 14 of the last 15 games vs. Edmonton (24 points, 10-1-4), along with points in 10 of the last 11 at home (19 points, 9-1-1). Ryan Getzlaf leads active Ducks in career scoring against the Oilers with 47 points (17g/30a) in 45 games.

Video: The Ducks preview their matchup with the Oilers

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