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Bruins-Ducks Preview @NHL

Nearly two weeks after beginning defense of their Stanley Cup championship, the Anaheim Ducks are headed home still looking for their first win on North American soil.

Before trying to avoid their fourth loss in a row, though, the Ducks will raise their first Stanley Cup banner on Wednesday night when they meet the Boston Bruins.

Anaheim is looking to become the NHL's first repeat champion in nearly a decade, but these Ducks look like a much different team than the one that defeated Ottawa in five games to become the first California-based Cup winner.

Scott Niedermayer, the team captain and Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP, continues to mull retirement. Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere and forward Samuel Pahlsson (sports hernias) have yet to play this season, as has defenseman Mathieu Schneider (broken foot) after he was signed away from Detroit as a possible replacement for Niedermayer.

Giguere and Pahlsson may finally make their season debuts, though, as the Ducks try to carry over last season's dominance at home. Anaheim tied a franchise record with 26 wins at the Honda Center last season, but also is 5-7-0 with one tie all-time in home openers.

"We'll be better when we get our group together," said coach Randy Carlyle, whose Cup-winning team last season lost four in a row only once.

The Ducks (1-3-1) split a two-game series with the Kings in London to kick off the NHL's 90th season late last month, but have failed to win in three games since returning to the United States.

They limited reigning MVP and scoring champion Sidney Crosby to one assist Saturday in Pittsburgh, but lost 5-4. Chris Kunitz had two goals and an assist and Francois Beauchemin drew three assists for Anaheim.

"It was a long, five-game road trip but we were able to learn an awful lot about ourselves and an awful lot about the way we need to play," said Chris Pronger, who replaced Niedermayer as Anaheim's captain. "We got back to crashing and banging and grinding on teams."

Boston (1-1-0), which is playing the third game of a season-opening five-game road trip, is looking to defeat Anaheim for the third straight time. The Bruins have beaten the Ducks by identical 4-3 scores following a loss in October 2002.

After dropping their season opener on Friday in Dallas, the Bruins snapped a seven-game skid dating back to last season with a 3-1 victory over the Coyotes on Saturday. Patrice Bergeron and Chuck Kobasew scored 38 seconds apart early in the first period and backup goaltender Tim Thomas finished with 36 saves as Boston won at Phoenix for the first time in nearly a decade.

"Winning is something you have to work at," Boston coach Claude Julien told the Bruins' official Web site after notching his first win with his new club. "And we're working at making it a consistent thing."

Marc Savard, the team's leading scorer last season with 96 points, suffered a lower-body injury against the Coyotes, and is questionable for this contest.

"(Savard) did not skate today because he is not ready," Julien said after practice on Tuesday. "He remains a day-to-day, but when you haven't skated in two days, to be honest with you, it's probably doubtful for tomorrow.

"I am not going to say that he's definitely out, because you never know. But I would have to list him as doubtful."

New starting goaltender Manny Fernandez is expected to play despite taking a puck off the hand in practice. Fernandez is 5-1-0 with a 1.95 goals-against average in his last six games against the Ducks.

The Bruins wrap up their road trip in Los Angeles and San Jose before meeting Tampa Bay in their home opener on Oct. 18.

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