After failing to get a shot in the third period and all but conceding the Pacific Division title, the Anaheim Ducks hope Jean-Sebastien Giguere can return Saturday and help them get closer to securing a playoff berth Saturday when they visit the Phoenix Coyotes, a team they have lost to four times in a row.
The Ducks (42-25-8), the reigning Stanley Cup winners, are second in the division, but seven points behind first-place San Jose with seven games to play after a 2-1 loss to the Sharks on Friday. Anaheim was outshot 43-13, including 17-0 in the third period as it struggled to find any fluid offensive play.
"Some teams will use the trap to protect a lead," said Ducks center Todd Marchant, who had the lone goal. "They did a great job in the neutral zone. Any time we tried to chip a puck behind them, they were able to knock it down and send it back up the ice. ... If it wasn't for our goalie, it could have been a lot worse."
Jonas Hiller, who had 41 saves Friday, could get his second consecutive start after being a late fill-in for Giguere, who developed an undisclosed injury between the morning skate and the pregame warmups.
Hiller, a rookie, has a solid 1.35 goals-against average in his last three starts but only 1-2-0 in those games. If Giguere can play, he would be looking to improve on his 12-2-2 record, 1.36 goals-against average and two shutouts over his last 16 starts.
Regardless of who is starting, the Ducks are trying to secure fourth place in the West, which carries home-ice advantage for at least the first round. Anaheim leads Dallas by three points for that last favorable spot.
One of Giguere's few defeats during his recent surge, though, came against Phoenix (36-33-6) on March 11. He made 37 saves, but allowed the lone shootout goal as the Ducks fell 3-2.
That loss was Anaheim's fourth in a row to the Coyotes, all decided in overtime or by shootout. The Ducks have only managed one win in six season meetings, a 5-2 victory at Jobing.com Arena on Nov. 3 as Giguere made 30 stops.
The Coyotes, who have allowed 22 goals during a four-game losing streak, are hoping to improve their fading playoff chances and avoid dropping a season-high fifth consecutive game for the first time since March 24-April 3. They trail eighth-place Colorado by six points for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with only seven games left - all against Pacific rivals.
Phoenix gained one point Thursday, losing 6-5 in a shootout to Los Angeles. The team appeared to be headed for a regulation loss before Keith Ballard netted the Coyotes' fourth power-play goal with 25 seconds to play.
"That was a huge point we let get away," said Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who had a goal and two assists - including one on Ballard's goal. "Right now, we have to find a way to get ready to go for the next game."
Doan has been hot of late, getting seven goals and four assists in the last 10 games. The right wing, Phoenix's leader with 73 points, has scored a goal in each of the last two meetings with Anaheim, giving him three goals and two assists in the season series.
The Coyotes hope to have Ed Jovanovski, their highest-scoring defenseman with 49 points, back in the lineup after he was sidelined Thursday with a bruised kidney.