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Ducks try to end slump as they host Wild

by John Kreiser /

WILD (32-23-6) at DUCKS (32-25-4)

TV -- FS-North (HD); HS-Wisconsin (HD); KDOC (HD)

Last 10 -- Minnesota 5-4-1; Anaheim 5-5-0

Season series -- It's the fourth and final meeting of the season in a series that has been dominated by the home teams. The Wild routed Anaheim 5-1 in St. Paul last Friday.

Big story -- Two members of the pack scrambling for the final four playoff berths in the West get together for the second time in a week. This time, though, the Ducks will have a new face in goal -- since last Friday, they've called up Ray Emery after a conditioning assignment following his signing and acquired Dan Ellis from Tampa Bay for Curtis McElhinney, who was torched for three games running last week.

Team Scope:

Wild -- What can you say when your banged-up team busts its butt and comes up short? In the case of Wild coach Todd Richards after Thursday's loss in L.A., not too much.

"Guys played hard all the way to the end," Richards said. "It was a pretty intense, pretty physical game. I'm proud of the way the guys battled. We stuck with it all the way. We just came up a little short."

Ducks -- If there was ever any doubt about Jonas Hiller's importance to the Ducks, it's been dispelled by his absence. McElhinney was dealt Thursday after being the starter in four consecutive losses that have dropped the Ducks to 11th in the West.

Ellis had been backing up Dwayne Roloson in Tampa Bay, but has been a starter before and is likely to get the first crack at the job while Hiller recovers from fatigue and light-headedness.

"He's carried a team at times, which is the most important thing for me," GM Bob Murray said.

Who's hot -- Anaheim's Corey Perry has goals in three of his last four games and 8 points in his last five. Teemu Selanne has scored in four of the last five games for Anaheim.

Injury report -- Minnesota is without two top centers -- Mikko Koivu is out with a broken finger and Kyle Brodziak didn't make the trip to Southern California due to illness. Cam Barker sat out Thursday's game with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Guillaume Latendresse (groin), James Sheppard (knee) and Josh Harding (ACL/MCL) are out long-term. … Anaheim has struggled without Hiller, who's on IR. Center Saku Koivu left Thursday's practice with a sore groin.

Stat pack -- The home team has won the last seven games in this series. The last road team to win was the Wild, which went home with a 3-2 victory on March 8, 2009. ... Martin Havlat leads the Wild with 52 points, two fewer than he had all last season.

Puck drop -- Emery, who signed with Anaheim earlier this month, is coming off major hip surgery and hasn't played since 2008. The Ducks had hoped to leave him with their AHL team in Syracuse, but circumstances have speeded up that timetable.

"He has to play some games," Murray said. "It's really unfair to put a whole bunch of huge expectations on him at the moment. What we have to do is stick to the game plan with him. He is here now and getting shots from NHL shooters. …He's going to be here until Jonas comes back and then he'll go play more games. Hopefully, at the end of all of this, we'll have three strong goaltenders who are ready to make a run."

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