CALGARY -- If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
With the Ducks holding a commanding 3-0 series lead in this First Round matchup against the Calgary Flames, it appears we'll see the same lineup that dressed in Games 2 and 3. The Ducks can sweep the Flames tonight and advance to the Second Round to face the winner of the Edmonton-San Jose series, currently tied, 2-2. If the Ducks lose tonight, they will return home to Honda Center where they have defeated the Flames 29 consecutive times.
The last series sweep for the Ducks occurred two years ago when they eliminated the Winnipeg Jets in the First Round. Ironically, Game 3 during that series also ended in a 5-4 win. For what it's worth, the Ducks have opened the postseason with wins in the first three games of a series on four occasions, including the current series vs. Calgary, 2015 vs. Winnipeg, 2007 vs. Minnesota and 2003 vs. Detroit. The Ducks swept the Jets and Red Wings, respectively, and eliminated the Wild in five games. Furthermore, the Ducks enter tonight's game with a 16-9 all-time record in Game 4, marking the club's best win percentage (.640) of any game in a seven-game series.
"It's not going to be easy," said Ducks forward Rickard Rakell. "We can't take anything for granted. They probably think they have nothing to lose. They're going to come at us with everything they've got."
John Gibson is expected to make his fourth consecutive start in the series despite being taken out of Game 3 after allowing four goals on 16 shots. Jonathan Bernier came on in relief and earned his first career playoff win in his first playoff appearance with Anaheim stopping all 16 shots.
Calgary will likely counter with Brian Elliott for the fourth game in a row, but there might be changes up front. Reports from the morning skate suggest Freddie Hamilton and Curtis Lazar making their series debuts tonight in place of Lance Bouma and Matt Stajan.
In his post-morning skate press conference, head coach Randy Carlyle said defenseman Sami Vatanen will not play tonight. Vatanen took the morning skate but continues to recover from an upper-body injury suffered in Game 1. In his place will be Korbinian Holzer, who has filled in admirably in Games 2 and 3 - the first two postseason games of his NHL career.
Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm said they can't afford to have the kind of start they had in Game 3, especially against a desperate team with a raucous crowd behind them. Anaheim also handed Calgary five power plays, three of which resulted in goals. The mindset, however, doesn't change. "We have to approach this game the same way," he said. "It's going to be the hardest game for us all season."
Potential Line Combinations
Video: The Ducks look ahead to Game 4 against Calgary