If the Anaheim Ducks are going to close out a three-game road trip on a positive note Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, they might need to avoid racking up penalty minutes.
The Ducks (14-13-4), the reigning Stanley Cup champions, lead the NHL with 635 penalty minutes - 105 more than the next team (Vancouver). Their 79.9 percent success rate at killing penalties also ranks them among the worst units in the Western Conference.
"It's discipline to the rules, it's discipline to our structure, and the way we want to play," Ducks captain and defenseman Chris Pronger said. "We have to understand that not only are teams looking to egg us on, but the referees are looking at us too, and we don't help ourselves out in that regard as well."
Anaheim had 32 penalty minutes Saturday and spent most of a 4-2 loss at Nashville killing off nine of 10 power plays. The Ducks had just five penalties - two of them fighting majors - in a 5-3 win Friday at Chicago.
"I have a feeling or a belief that fatigue is part of everyday life as a hockey player," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "We are taking far too many penalties, and this is an all-too-familiar statement."
The lack of discipline has attributed to Anaheim giving up 88 goals, 14 more than at this point last season.
They'll get a boost after the trip with the return of defenseman Scott Niedermayer, who decided last week to put off retirement. The 2007 Conn Smythe Trophy winner for being the most valuable player of the playoffs could be in the lineup Wednesday when Anaheim opens a three-game homestand.
Before that, Anaheim is likely to have Jean-Sebastien Giguere back in goal after being rested against the Predators. He has won his last two starts by making 61 saves on 65 shots, including a stellar 39-save performance on Friday against the Blackhawks.
Giguere is 4-1-0 with a 1.79 goals-against average in his last five games - four starts - at Columbus (13-11-5). He beat the Blue Jackets at home Nov. 1, making 19 saves in regulation and overtime before stopping all three shootout attempts in a 2-1 win.
Giguere did not play in a 4-0 loss at Nationwide Arena on Oct. 5, when the Ducks were short-handed an NHL season-high 11 times and conceded three power-play goals.
Ryan Getzlaf, the Ducks' leader with 33 points, has two goals and three assists in the last three games. The center hasn't registered a point in two meetings with Columbus this season.
The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, are looking to rebound from Saturday's 2-1 loss to Minnesota as they continue a five-game homestand.
They opened the stretch last Monday with a 2-1 shootout loss to Dallas before netting four third-period goals in a 5-4 win over Colorado two days later. Columbus gets a chance to even out its record against the Ducks before ending the homestand Wednesday against the Avalanche.
Columbus hopes Nikolai Zherdev can extend his career-high goal-scoring streak to five games after getting the lone score against the Wild. The right wing scored on the power play against Giguere on Nov. 1 in a loss that featured 78 combined penalty minutes.
The Blue Jackets placed right wing David Vyborny on injured reserve with a hip injury Sunday and recalled center Derek MacKenzie from their American Hockey League affiliate in Syracuse.
Vyborny was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 1, when he injured his hip against the Calgary Flames.
MacKenzie had 10 goals and five assists in 27 games for the Syracuse Crunch.