The success the Anaheim Ducks have enjoyed at the Honda Center likely played a role in helping them secure home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. Before starting defense of their Stanley Cup title, though, they will try to solve their home struggles against the Phoenix Coyotes.
|Teemu Selanne and the Ducks have the second-most home wins in the NHL, but are 0-1-2 at home versus the Coyotes. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)
The Ducks look to avoid a fourth consecutive home loss to the Coyotes as the teams close out the regular season on Sunday.
Anaheim (46-27-8) endured a season-high six-game losing streak from Jan. 20-Feb. 2, but has since gone 19-5-1 - highlighted by a 10-game home winning streak from Feb. 17-March 26.
The Ducks are 27-9-4 at the Honda Center, their best home record in the organization's 14-year history. Only Detroit, which hosts Chicago on Sunday, has more home victories with 28.
Anaheim, which earned its third straight postseason berth, was guaranteed the fourth seed in the Western Conference and home ice for at least the first round after Phoenix (38-37-6) defeated Dallas - the Ducks' first-round opponent - 4-2 on Friday.
While the Ducks have had the upper hand at home recently, they are 0-1-2 against the Coyotes, whom they had beaten 10 straight times at the Honda Center prior to this season.
The Ducks have won consecutive games, and may have captain Chris Pronger for the season finale. The defenseman finished serving his eight-game suspension for intentionally stepping on the leg of Vancouver's Ryan Kesler with Anaheim's 4-3 victory at Los Angeles on Saturday.
Teemu Selanne snapped a 3-all tie with 13:32 left in the third period as the Ducks reached the 100-point mark for the second straight season.
"My goal has been getting better every day and to build the momentum into the playoffs," said Selanne, who had two goals Saturday, and 12 goals and 10 assists in 25 games since returning to the Ducks after contemplating retirement. "I think right now we have to finish strong."
Ryan Getzlaf, the Ducks' leader with 57 assists and 80 points, added a goal and an assist.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 28 saves on Saturday to improve to 14-2-1 with a shutout and a 1.57 goals-against average in his last 17 starts, going 8-0-0 with a 1.47 GAA at the Honda Center in that span. Giguere is 1-0-3 with a 2.21 GAA in four starts against the Coyotes this season, but 9-3-1 with a shutout and a 2.09 GAA in 13 career home games versus Phoenix.
The Coyotes, who have dropped four of their last five road games, are just 2-7-1 since March 15, but avoided a fourth straight defeat with Friday's win. Rookie Daniel Carcillo, the NHL's leader with 324 penalty minutes, notched his first career hat trick.
"He plays hard all the time and loves to compete," said Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky, whose team will miss the playoffs for a fifth straight season. "All in all, he's had a tremendous year."
Mikael Tellqvist, who made 30 saves on Friday, hasn't faced Anaheim this season, but is 2-1 with a shutout and a 1.34 GAA in three lifetime starts.
It is unclear if Gretzky will start Tellqvist or Ilya Bryzgalov, who made 13 saves in a 2-1 home loss to Anaheim on March 22 in the teams' most recent matchup.
Claimed off waivers from the Ducks on Nov. 17, Bryzgalov is 3-1-0 with a 2.12 GAA in four meetings against his former team.
Anaheim is 2-1-4 against the Coyotes, losing the season series for the first time since going 2-4-0 in 1999-2000.