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Flames, Ducks try to continue solid start

by Tal Pinchevsky /

FLAMES (3-0-2) at DUCKS (4-1-0)


Season series: This is the first of four meetings this season between two Pacific Division rivals that are enjoying a great start to the 2013-14 campaign. Anaheim went 2-1-0 against the Flames last season, including a resounding 4-0 win in the only game at Honda Center. Ryan Getzlaf and Daniel Winnik led all players with three goals in those three games.

Big story: The Ducks were expected to enjoy success this season after finishing atop the Pacific Division last season with a 30-12-6 record that earned them the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. The Flames, on the other hand, are one of the League's pleasant surprises, having stormed out to a 3-0-2 start after finishing 2012-13 with one of the worst records in the NHL. Both teams will be looking to continue their success Wednesday night.

Team Scope:

Flames: Few people predicted the Flames would get through the first two weeks of the season without suffering a regulation loss. After allowing the Washington Capitals and Vancouver Canucks to come back from multi-goal leads in the third period, the Flames defense has suddenly become stout in their recent two-game win streak. They've held both the Montreal Canadiens and New Jersey Devils in check with back-to-back 3-2 wins at home and are looking to continue that strong defensive play on the road against a high-flying Ducks team.

Against the Devils on Friday night, Calgary showed impressive resilience in coming back from deficits of 1-0 and 2-1. Captain Mark Giordano's power-play goal with 19 second remaining in the second period tied the score 2-2 and set the stage for an exciting third. And as they've managed to do much of the season so far, Calgary found a way to win.

The Flames turned on the heat in the third, outshooting the Devils 9-4 and keeping the New Jersey from sustaining any serious offensive pressure. With 2:43 remaining in regulation, the Flames finally took the lead as rookie Sean Monahan finished off a perfect pass from Sven Baertschi to give the Flames a lead they wouldn't relinquish. The game-winner gave the 2013 first-round pick four goals for the season, which ranks second in the NHL among rookies behind Tomas Hertl of the San Jose Sharks, who has seven goals.

"It's pretty crazy, growing up watching [Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur] play and now scoring a goal on him," Monahan said. "It's pretty awesome, and it's even better it's a game-winner."

Ducks: Anaheim was humbled early on in the season, losing 6-1 to the Colorado Avalanche in their season opener. But the Ducks have rolled off four straight wins since then, including resounding wins over two heralded Eastern Conference opponents.

The Ducks routed the New York Rangers 6-0 last Thursday and followed up that flawless performance with a convincing 4-1 victory against the Ottawa Senators Sunday night. Former Ducks forward Bobby Ryan scored for Ottawa in his return to Anaheim. But that was the Senators' lone bright spot in a contest that saw the Ducks get a lead just 27 seconds into the game. That lead came courtesy of Corey Perry, who fired a perfect wrist shot past Craig Anderson off an offensive-zone faceoff.

Wearing vintage purple uniforms to honor the 20th anniversary of the franchise, the Ducks put on a show for their hometown fans, firing a franchise-record 56 shots in front of a sellout crowd of 17,177. The score would have been far worse had it not been for the goaltending of Robin Lehner, who made 45 saves after coming in to relieve Anderson.

Perry scored his second goal of the night early in the second period and the result was never really in doubt.

"That’s the way we want to play," Perry said. "We want to shoot as many pucks on the net as we can. Good things are going to happen when you start doing that. You can see it in the last couple of games."

Who's hot: Monahan has opened his NHL career with a five-game point streak in which he has six points and goals in four straight. Jiri Hudler has been an offensive facilitator for Calgary, with five assists in his past three games. ... Perry has six points in his past four games and captain Ryan Getzlaf has three points in his past two contests.

Injury report: Forwards Matt Stajan (leg), David Jones (upper body) and Michael Cammalleri (hand) are all out for Calgary. Mikael Backlund is questionable with a hand injury. ... For Anaheim, defensemen Sheldon Souray (wrist) and Luca Sbisa (ankle) are out. Forwards Dustin Penner and Matt Beleskey both missed Sunday’s game with lower-body injuries.

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