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Ducks want to play heavy game against Oilers

Anaheim focused on defense, limiting Edmonton rookie McDavid

by Abbey Mastracco / Correspondent

OILERS (22-34-6) at DUCKS (32-19-8)

TV: 10 p.m. ET; SNW, FS-W, NHL.TV

ANAHEIM -- The Anaheim Ducks have been the hottest team in the NHL since the Christmas break, but despite the six-game win streak general manager Bob Murray still feels that the team hasn't been playing the way it needs to in recent games.

The Ducks are heeding Murray's words and trying not to overlook the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, with the goal of playing a heavy defense-first game.

"I think [Murray] is right," Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said. "I think we've played some games lately where we've given up a lot of chances and if it wasn't for maybe [Frederik Andersen] or the goaltending, I don't know if we would have won. What got us out of this and made us play well is that we really weren't giving up a lot for that stretch of games. We were giving 20 shots up and playing strong defensively. That's the only way that we're going to win and be successful."

Limiting Connor McDavid's chances is especially key. The Ducks faced the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft in the sixth game of a seven-game road trip last week and coach Bruce Boudreau said the Oilers center is everything that has been advertised.

"He's got speed, he's got hands, he's got vision," Boudreau said. "This guy is somebody to watch every night. If we're not on top of him and we allow him to skate, then we're going to be in trouble. The more he handles the puck, the more dangerous that team is."

Anaheim's third line of Cogliano, Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg will likely draw the assignment of shutting down McDavid's line. Kesler held another rookie phenom in Jack Eichel scoreless Wednesday in a 1-0 win against the Buffalo Sabres.

Cogliano said it helps they've already seen what McDavid can do. Against Anaheim last week, McDavid had an assist and was a minus-2.

"His speed is one of the best in the League," Cogliano said. "He gains a lot of speed through the neutral zone and he's really tough to handle. If we can get on him in the neutral zone and take away his speed as much as possible -- just so he can't build it -- I think we'll have a better chance. But he's great, he's a special player and we're going to need to play hard against that line."

Andersen was the first goalie off the ice for Anaheim and is expected to start.

Following a 2-1 loss at the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, the Oilers had a meeting at the team hotel and did not come to the rink Friday morning.

Zack Kassian's goal held until the third period when the Kings scored twice to come from behind for the win.

"We can't be happy with an effort and a loss," Kassian said following the game. "But we did a lot of good things that should be in our game every night."

Here are the projected lineups:

Benoit Pouliot - Connor McDavid - Jordan Eberle
Taylor Hall - Leon Draisaitl - Zack Kassian
Matt Hendricks - Mark Letestu - Lauri Korpikoski
Jujhar Khaira - Anton Lander - Nail Yakupov

Andrej Sekera - Mark Fayne
Jordan Oesterle - Brandon Davidson
Darnell Nurse - Adam Clendening

Cam Talbot
Anders Nilsson

Inured: Oscar Klefbom (finger), Andrew Ference (hip), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (hand), Eric Gryba (knee)
Scratched: Teddy Purcell, Justin Schultz, Iiro Pakarinen

David Perron - Ryan Getzlaf - Mike Santorelli
Nick Ritchie - Rickard Rakell - Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg
Patrick Maroon - Nate Thompson - Ryan Garbutt

Cam Fowler - Kevin Bieksa
Hampus Lindholm - Josh Manson
Simon Despres - Sami Vatanen

Frederik Andersen
John Gibson

Injured: Chris Stewart (jaw)
Scratched: Korbinian Holzer, Harry Zolnierczyk

Status report: Purcell and Schultz may play against the Ducks. Following the loss in L.A., coach Todd McLellan said, "If they're available to us and ready to play, we'll consider using them tomorrow." … Clendening will likely play against his former team. The defenseman was traded to Anaheim along with David Perron for forward Carl Hagelin on Jan. 15, but did not play a game for the Ducks. He was claimed off waivers by the Oilers and was a healthy scratch when Anaheim played in Edmonton on Feb. 16.

Who's hot: Andersen has won four straight decisions and is 10-0-1 in his past 11 starts. … Getzlaf has points in each of the past nine games. … Kesler has seven points in the past seven games. … Draisaitl has points in three of the past five games.

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