DUCKS (29-21-4) at CANUCKS (35-10-9)
-- FS-W (HD), SNET-P (HD)
-- Anaheim 7-3-0, Vancouver 6-1-3.
-- They've split a pair tight one-goal games so far and have two more to play in the series. The previous two seasons were splits as well, the Canucks taking three of four in 2007-2008.
-- Who's going to stop the Canucks? They've won six straight and had an eight-game romp before that, part of a 25-3-6 mark in their last 34 games. They've also gone 15 games without a regulation loss at home (11-0-4). The Ducks have won three in a row on the road and lost a 5-4 shootout to the Canucks on Dec. 8. If anyone can make the Canucks' lives difficult, it's them.
-- The last few days have definitely been a case of good news and bad news. The bad news was Jonas Hiller
having to take time off, experiencing fatigue and lightheadedness after giving up three goals in 12 minutes to the Sharks last Wednesday. It might be a result of a playing 47 games so far, tied with Montreal's Carey Price for the NHL lead and facing more shots than anyone.
The good news? Curtis McElhinney stepped up on Saturday with a 25-save performance for the second shutout of his NHL career (both this season) and the Ducks rode Corey Perry
's hat trick to a 3-0 win over the Avalanche.
"Unselfish," Perry said. "That's how we're continuing our success, unselfish play."
More good news comes in Ryan Getzlaf
's scheduled return on Wednesday. He had missed 14 games after taking a puck in the face on Dec. 28 and suffering fractures in his sinus cavity, a stretch where the Ducks managed to hold serve and then some with a 10-4-0 record. He's been cleared for contact in practice and is just about ready to go. And should Hiller require more rest, Ray Emery cleared waivers on Monday and is in Syracuse.
-- Good news-bad news applies to the best team in the NHL as well. They beat the Senators 4-2 after jumping out to a 3-0 lead and letting the hapless Sens back into the game. The bad news was that they were shorthanded on defense after Keith Ballard
got his leg tangled with Milan Michalek, forcing his right knee to bend in a direction it wasn't designed to go.
"I didn't think I could bend like that," Ballard said Tuesday. "I'm not the most flexible person, it's pretty impressive. I don't think bodies are supposed to move like that."
MRI results showed a mild knee sprain, miraculous considering how it looked, which will sideline the veteran defenseman 3-4 weeks.
That means youngsters like Christopher Tanev
will be getting more minutes, something his usual blueline partner is happy to see.
"He's done very well," said Ballard. "He came in, it was a very seamless transition from his first game and he kept getting better from there. I think our depth is being tested again and it's good to have guys playing well."
-- Always pencil the Sedins into this category, though Henrik and Daniel combined for one point in the Ottawa game. Mikael Samuelsson
had a chance to shine with two goals and an assist, giving him nine points in a four-game streak and five goals and six assists in his last six appearances. Ryan Kesler
contributed a goal and an assist, while Mason Raymond
's three helpers made it eight points in all from the second line. For the Ducks, Perry's hat trick gives him six points in his last four games, while Teemu Selanne has five points during the team's road win streak. Defenseman Toni Lydman
's plus-25 rating matches Kesler's and trails only the Flyers' Andrej Meszaros at plus-27 for the NHL lead. Kevin Bieksa
, Daniel Sedin
and Dan Hamhuis
are all in the top 10 in the plus-minus category.
-- Getzlaf's return leaves Hiller's rest period the main concern in Anaheim. Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler
(back surgery) is still months away while forward Alexandre Bolduc (shoulder) has returned to practice.
-- Perry's hat trick marked the first time a Ducks player scored all three goals in a win. Paul Kariya (1997), Teemu Selanne (1997) and Bobby Ryan
(2009) had all done it before, but the Ducks lost those games. The four players are also the only Ducks with multiple hat tricks. Hiller has a 6-3-0 career record with a 2.76 goals-against average versus the Canucks, while McElhinney is 0-0-1 in two appearances. Both teams have had head-to-head success on the power play, the Canucks going 4-for-10 in their first two meetings, the Ducks 4-for-9. Both are among the top three in the NHL in overall power-play success, Vancouver at 24.2 percent and Anaheim at 24.0. The Canucks, however, have not allowed a man-up goal in 26 opposing attempts.
-- "Adding one of the best players in the world, it's only going to help your team. He's great in the locker room. He's a warrior, he competes. Obviously the skill level speaks for itself. It's only going to help a team that's already playing well." -- Ducks defenseman Andy Sutton in the Orange County Register on Getzlaf's anticipated return