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GAME: Detroit Red Wings (43-18-11-2) at Anaheim Mighty Ducks (26-31-10-8).

TIME: Sunday, 8 p.m. EST.

The Anaheim Mighty Ducks ended the Detroit Red Wings' season in last year's playoffs.

This season, Anaheim has to settle for trying to slow Detroit in its pursuit of the NHL's best record when the teams meet at the Arrowhead Pond.

The Red Wings were defending Stanley Cup champions when they were swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the surprising Ducks last season.

Anaheim took advantage of an improbable run of nearly unbeatable goaltending by Jean-Sebastien Giguere to reach Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals before losing to New Jersey.

This year has been a much different story.

With seven games to play, the Ducks are 10 points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Their play of late hasn't inspired hopes of a strong finish.

Anaheim is 1-5-1 in its last seven games, including Friday's 4-2 loss to the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks. Teams like San Jose and Colorado, both battling Detroit for the conference's top seed, are hoping the Ducks can slow the Red Wings down.

"Our chances of catching Detroit are pretty slim - but we have a game left with them. And if we can get some help from some other teams here in Southern California, you never know," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said.

The Red Wings moved six points ahead of Colorado and seven in front of San Jose with Saturday's 4-2 win at Los Angeles.

Jason Williams scored the tying and go-ahead goals early in the second period, and Steve Yzerman had three assists as Detroit moved past Tampa Bay into the top spot in the league's overall standings with 99 points.

Curtis Joseph continued his strong goaltending with 23 saves. Joseph has allowed no more than two goals in any of his last six starts after giving up four goals in consecutive outings Jan. 22-24.

Joseph missed 11 games during his current 6-0-1 stretch because of an ankle injury that hasn't completely healed.

Detroit is 6-1-2 in March.

STANDINGS: Red Wings - 99 points, 1st place, Central Division. Mighty Ducks - 70 points, 4th place, 22 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Red Wings - Robert Lang, 29 goals, 49 assists and 78 points; Brendan Shanahan, 100 PIM. Mighty Ducks - Sergei Fedorov, 27 goals, 32 assists and 59 points; Garrett Burnett, 153 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 19): Red Wings - Power play: 20.5 percent (60 for 292), 4th in NHL. Penalty killing: 87.3 percent (247 for 283), 1st. Mighty Ducks - Power play: 16.8 percent (48 for 286), 12th. Penalty killing: 84.4 percent (271 for 321), 12th.

GOALTENDERS: Red Wings - Manny Legace (19-8-5, 2 SO, 1.95 GAA); Joseph (16-9-3, 2, 2.35). Mighty Ducks - Martin Gerber (10-10-4, 2, 2.33); Giguere (15-29-6, 3, 2.58).

SEASON SERIES: Red Wings, 2-0-1.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 21; Tie, 2-2, OT. At Anaheim, Calif., Petr Sykora scored in the final minute of the second period and set up Vinny Prospal's goal late in the third as the Ducks averted a third straight loss to the Red Wings. It was the Red Wings' first visit to the Pond since Game 4 of last year's playoff sweep.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Wings - 15-12-7-2 on the road; Mighty Ducks - 17-10-7-4 at home.

Associated Press
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