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Division leaders square off as Ducks visit Wild

by Brian Hunter

DUCKS (18-3-3) at WILD (13-9-2)


Last 10: Anaheim 7-1-2; Minnesota 7-3-0

Season series: Third and final meeting of the regular season. The Ducks won the first two in Anaheim, 28 days apart. On Feb. 1, Teemu Selanne set up a pair of goals by Kyle Palmieri and another by Bobby Ryan in a 3-1 victory. On March 1, Jonas Hiller stopped 31 shots for a 3-2 win.

Big story: Now that the Blackhawks have come back down to earth, figure on the Ducks getting a lot more attention. Anaheim is only six points behind Chicago for the Western Conference lead and has two games in hand. The Wild, meanwhile, deserve some accolades of their own. They've taken advantage of a hot streak and a corresponding cold spell by the Canucks to move into a tie for first in the Northwest Division.

Team Scope:

Ducks: This is the start of a three-game road trip for Anaheim, which extended its home winning streak to 11 by coming back from a pair of one-goal deficits Sunday against St. Louis. Andrew Cogliano's shorthanded goal wiped out the Blues' first lead, then the Ducks responded to falling behind again in the third by getting scores from Ryan and Corey Perry in a span of 2:09 to go in front for good. Perry struck again into an empty net to finish off the 4-2 win, in which Hiller stopped 29 shots.

"It feels good," Perry said of the Ducks' franchise-best start. "Everybody here knows what's going on and the role they're supposed to be playing. Everyone is adapting to it. We're staying positive when we get down in games, whether it's early or like tonight in the third period, we find a way to win. We don't deviate from our game plan. It has definitely helped us confidence-wise, especially when it starts from the goalie right on up."

Wild: It's safe to say Minnesota had designs of challenging Vancouver for the division title when it signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to mega-contracts during the offseason, and those players had key roles as the Wild doubled up the Canucks 4-2 on Sunday to move into a tie with points (by virtue of having more wins, Minnesota holds the division lead via tiebreaker). Parise started the scoring just 24 seconds after the opening faceoff and capped it with an insurance goal in the third. Parise and Suter each assisted on Jared Spurgeon's power-play goal that turned out to be the game-winner, and Suter had another assist during a game-high 26:33 of ice time.

"Our guys were ready for this one, for sure," coach Mike Yeo said. "We are a team that's on the up and going in the right direction. We were looking forward to this chance."

Who's hot: Ryan has three goals and five assists during a seven-game points streak for the Ducks. Linemates Perry (4-2-6) and Ryan Getzlaf (3-6-9) have four-game points streaks active. Francois Beauchemin assisted on all three third-period goals Sunday. … Suter has one goal and eight assists during a seven-game points streak for the Wild. Mikko Koivu has one goal and five assists during a four-game points streak. Parise has three goals in the past two games.

Injury report: Palmieri (upper body) is on injured reserve for Anaheim, while defenseman Bryan Allen (flu-like symptoms) is day-to-day. … Minnesota goaltenders Josh Harding (illness) and Darcy Kuemper (groin) are on injured reserve.

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