The defending Stanley Cup champions are struggling on offense, but help could be on the way.
Teemu Selanne could make his season debut on Tuesday as the Anaheim Ducks visit the struggling New York Islanders.
|The last time Teemu Selanne saw NHL action, he was hoisting the Stanley Cup on June 6, 2007. The star winger is expected to make his season debut tonight on Long Island. (AP Photo/Mark Avery, File)
The Ducks (27-22-7) lost 1-0 in a shootout to St. Louis on Friday and 3-0 in Philadelphia the following day. Anaheim has not scored since the second period of a 5-1 loss at Minnesota on Wednesday - a span of 155 minutes, 20 seconds - while suffering its first back-to-back shutout defeats since Feb. 10-13.
The Ducks have been blanked in three straight games just once in March 1994. They currently rank last in the NHL with just 2.36 goals per game, though the Islanders (24-23-6) are second-to-last with an average of 2.38.
"We just can't find a way to create offense," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said Saturday. "We had opportunities. We have to stay positive. We're not happy with the outcome, but we can take solace that we worked hard."
Anaheim hopes Selanne's impending return can give it a spark in the fifth game of a nine-game, 15-day road trip - the longest continuous stretch away from home in team history.
The Ducks signed the 37-year-old Selanne to a one-year deal on Jan. 28 after he sat out the first half of the season while contemplating retirement. He has been a healthy scratch the last three games.
Selanne, who had 94 points last season, was third in the NHL with 48 goals. He also led the league with 25 power-play goals and tied for first with 10 game-winners. Anaheim already lured one player out of potential retirement, as Stanley Cup MVP Scott Niedermeyer returned in December.
"I really feel this is a good time to come back and go on the road with my teammates," Selanne said on Jan. 28. "(The trip) gives a little more privacy and the ability to get together with new teammates and get back into action."
Selanne has four goals, including two game-winners, in eight career on Long Island.
The Ducks are 0-3-1 with one tie in their last five games against the Islanders and are visiting the Nassau Coliseum for the first time since a 4-1 defeat on Nov. 1, 2003.
The Islanders have dropped four straight, one shy of their season high set Nov. 29-Dec. 7. They have managed only five goals during their current slide, including Saturday's 4-1 defeat in Montreal.
"Right now we don't have strong faith in our ability to score goals," New York coach Ted Nolan told the Islanders' official Web site. "We're having our chances, but we're not burying them."
Nolan announced Monday that center Mike Sillinger, who has 14 goals and 12 assists, will miss three weeks with a hip injury. New York recalled Jeff Tambellini, the AHL's leader with 29 goals, and Frans Nielsen from Bridgeport.
"You have to give Sillinger credit," Nolan said. "He's had this nagging injury for a while, and he fought through it. But it's gotten to the point where he needs to get rest and heal. It's a big blow for us, losing our top faceoff man and one of our best penalty killers."