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Daily Primer Dec. 6: Ducks ready for Blackhawks

by John Kreiser

Two of the best teams in the Western Conference will be trying to break losing streaks Friday night at United Center.

The Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks meet for the first time this season (8 p.m. ET, NHLN-US), with both teams trying to break out of mini-slumps. The Ducks have dropped back-to-back shootouts, but the Blackhawks are returning to United Center with consecutive defeats in regulation, including a 4-3 road loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night in which they couldn't hang onto a one-goal lead in the final six minutes.

Here's a look at all of the action on the NHL schedule Friday night:

Detroit Red Wings at New Jersey Devils -- The Red Wings are visiting Prudential Center for the third time since the Devils moved into their new home in October 2007 and the first time in almost three years. Both teams are looking to bounce back from losses on Wednesday in which they couldn't hold leads. Detroit led 3-2 after two periods against the Philadelphia Flyers but surrendered four goals in a 6-3 loss. The Devils couldn't hold 2-1 and 3-2 leads and were beaten 4-3 by the Montreal Canadiens in a shootout. The Red Wings will start Jonas Gustavsson in goal. Detroit will be missing speedy center Darren Helm, who injured his shoulder against the Flyers.

San Jose Sharks at Carolina Hurricanes -- Both teams flew into Raleigh after playing Thursday night, though there were a lot more smiles on the Hurricanes' flight. The Sharks fired 45 shots at Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, but scored only once in a 5-1 loss to the Eastern Conference leaders. Carolina returned home after a 5-2 victory against the Nashville Predators that was fueled by Jeff Skinner's hat trick. This is the 29th meeting between the franchises; each has won 14 of the first 28.

Minnesota Wild at Columbus Blue Jackets -- The Wild blew a 2-0 lead against the Blackhawks on Thursday, but got late goals by defensemen Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella to rally for a 4-3 victory. They'll be facing a Columbus team that will be without Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky for at least four weeks after he suffered a groin injury during a 1-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. Curtis McElhinney steps into the starter's role in his absence.

Anaheim Ducks at Chicago Blackhawks -- It's been almost two years since the Blackhawks beat the Ducks; on Dec. 16, 2011, Chicago won 4-1 at United Center. Since then, the Ducks have won four in a row, including all three last season when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. The Ducks begin a quick two-game trip through the Midwest after a two-day break following a 3-2 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. The Blackhawks' loss was especially disappointing because they overcame a 2-0 deficit with three consecutive goals before the Wild's late rally.

Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames -- The Avalanche will be doing their best to wipe away the taste of their 8-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night when they step on the ice at Scotiabank Saddledome. Colorado became only the second team this season to allow more than seven goals in a game. Flames coach Bob Hartley will continue to ride the hot hand in goal; Karri Ramo will get his third straight start after allowing one goal each in victories against the Kings and Phoenix Coyotes.

Phoenix Coyotes at Vancouver Canucks -- After splitting two games in Alberta, the Coyotes come to Vancouver, where the Canucks are back home after going 3-1-0 on a four-game road trip. Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said he'll go back to Mike Smith in goal after Thomas Greiss played in the 4-1 loss at Calgary on Wednesday. The Canucks are trying to find a way to replicate their road success at Rogers Arena; Vancouver is 10-5-2 away from home but just 5-5-3 on its own ice. Vancouver won the last two games of its road trip, but lost a regular in each. Forward Alexandre Burrows broke his jaw against the Carolina Hurricanes, then defenseman Alexander Edler injured his leg against the Nashville Predators.

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