DUCKS (32-22-4) at WILD (30-22-5)
TV -- PRIME (HD)
Last 10 -- Anaheim 7-3-0, Minnesota 6-4-0
Season series - This is the third meeting this season between two teams battling for positioning in the cluttered Western Conference playoff race. It has been more than two months since their last faceoff, a 6-2 Ducks win at Anaheim on Dec. 12 in which Corey Perry notched a hat trick and tied a career mark with a five-point night. The Wild won the only other meeting, 2-1 in overtime on Nov. 17 at the Xcel Energy Center.
Big story -- With two head-to-head games in the next week, the Ducks and Wild will need a strong effort to keep pace in a Western Conference that has third and 12th places separated by just seven points. With just a single point separating third-place Phoenix from eighth-place Calgary, neither team can afford a momentary lapse in play.
Ducks - It didn't take long for the absence of All-Star goalie Jonas Hiller to be felt in Anaheim. Just hours after placing Hiller on IR on Wednesday with a recurrence of fatigue and lightheadedness, the Ducks allowed a season-worst seven goals in a 7-6 loss to the Capitals. The defensive letdown wasted a monster night from the line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan, who combined for 10 points.
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle refused to pull goaltender Curtis McElhinney, but the backup keeper called out his own subpar performance. "It was frustrating and a difficult night," he said. "The offense put up six goals and we end up giving up seven. A better performance was needed from me tonight and it wasn't there. It's disheartening to let the boys down like that."
Wild - After their recent 9-2-0 run, the Wild have lost two in a row, including a 3-1 loss on Wednesday to Chicago, which pulled within one point of Minnesota. Against Chicago, Matt Cullen appeared to give the Wild new life with a power-play goal that tied the game 1-1 in the third period. But Chuck Kobasew took a penalty just 23 seconds later for throwing his stick and Troy Brouwer scored the game-winner just 11 seconds later. It was the fourth power-play goal Minnesota has allowed in its last three games.
"Every game is important. There are a lot of teams in the mix, battling for the playoffs," forward Martin Havlat said. "We have to move on."
Who's hot - The Ducks' top line has been on fire of late. Ryan has 5 goals in his last four games while Perry has 14 points in his current six-game point streak. … Against Chicago, Cal Clutterbuck saw the end of his four-game point streak, but he still has 5 points in his last five games.
Injury report - Other than Hiller, the Ducks are sporting a healthy lineup. … For the Wild, Marco Scandella is still out indefinitely with a concussion while James Sheppard (knee), Josh Harding (ACL/MCL), Guillaume Latendresse (hernia/hip), and Marek Zidlicky (shoulder) are on IR, though Zidlicky is close to being able to return.
Stat pack - Recent history has seen the Wild and Ducks play each other pretty evenly. The teams have split their season series in three of the past four seasons, with the Ducks holding a slight 33-31 goal advantage.
Puck drop - Ducks forward Teemu Selanne may be 40, but he sure doesn't play like it. His next goal will give him 625 for his career, tying Joe Sakic for 14th on the all-time list. Selanne has 54 points in 49 games this season, and his 36 assists are the most he's had since getting 46 in 2006-07 -- when he was a key to the Ducks' run to the Cup.