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NHL-leading Ducks face Coyotes

by Jerry Brown / NHL.com

DUCKS (23-8-5) at COYOTES (12-18-4)

TV: PRIME, FS-A

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Anaheim Ducks are already looking down at the rest of the NHL with 51 points, the first team to ever top 50 points by the Christmas break.

The Ducks didn't skate Saturday and were again without first-line right wing Corey Perry, who's been sidelined since Dec. 5 because of a knee sprain. He skated in Anaheim on Saturday but didn't make the trip.

Defenseman Francois Beauchemin (finger) did return for the Ducks.

Perry's regular center, Ryan Getzlaf, sent the Ducks into the break on a high note with the game-winner in a 3-2 overtime win against the San Jose Sharks on Monday.

"Their top players can have a huge effect on the game if you don't play them tight," Arizona coach Dave Tippett said. "Getzlaf, and it looks like they will have Perry back, they are the leaders, but they are just a solid team throughout. They play hard and they play together. But the key guys are the catalysts and you try to keep them off the score sheet, that will help you the most."

The Coyotes have three wins in the past 13 games (3-8-2) all against the Edmonton Oilers, including a 5-1 win in Edmonton on Monday. The Coyotes have five of their 12 wins this season against Edmonton, but the five-game series is now over. One of Arizona's other wins came against the Ducks, when Mikkel Boedker scored the deciding shootout goal on Nov. 5 for a 3-2 win.

The Ducks avenged that loss with a one-goal win of their own, 2-1 against Arizona on Nov. 23 with Patrick Maroon getting the game-winner. Tight wins are nothing new to Anaheim; 14 of the Ducks past 16 wins have come by one goal. Overall, Anaheim is 17-0-5 in one-goal games this season, collecting 39 of a possible 44 points.

The Coyotes will stick with goalie Devan Dubnyk over the struggling Mike Smith. Dubnyk got the win against Edmonton, but Tippett stopped short of saying Dubnyk has supplanted Smith as the No.1 goalie.

"He won the last game so he's back in there today," Tippett said. "I think we're still unsettled. (Dubnyk) has gotten in there and played solid for us, but we're going to need both of them to play well if we're going to have success. (Smith) is going to have to play and snap himself out of it, but coming off the win Devan was the best option tonight."

The Coyotes are hoping that the line of Martin Erat, Martin Hanzal and Sam Gagner didn't cool off over the break. The three combined for nine points against the Oilers, with Gagner having his best game as a Coyote with two goals and two assists against his former team.

Here are the projected lineups:

DUCKS

Rene Bourque - Ryan Getzlaf - Devante Smith-Pelly

Matt Beleskey - Ryan Kesler - Emerson Etem

Patrick Maroon - Rickard Rakell - Jakob Silfverberg

Andrew Cogliano - Nate Thompson - Dany Heatley

Cam Fowler - Francois Beauchemin

Clayton Stoner - Sami Vatanen

Hampus Lindholm - Ben Lovejoy

Frederik Andersen

Ilya Bryzgalov

Scratched: Colby Robak, Mark Fistric

Injured: Kyle Palmieri (shoulder), Eric Brewer (foot), Tim Jackman (upper body)

COYOTES

Mikkel BoedkerAntoine Vermette - Shane Doan

Martin Erat - Martin Hanzal - Sam Gagner

Tobias RiederKyle ChipchuraDavid Moss

Brandon McMillanJoe Vitale - Lauri Korpikoski

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Zbynek Michalek

Keith Yandle - Michael Stone

Brandon Gormley - Connor Murphy

Devan Dubnyk

Mike Smith

Scratched: B.J. Crombeen

Injured: Chris Summers (upper body)

Status report: Summers remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He was able to ride a bike Saturday but couldn't get on the ice. … Korpikoski is ready to go after missing the past four games with a lower-body injury. He will start out on the fourth line with McMillan and Vitale, with Crombeen the odd-man out. … Jackman left the game Monday after a hit by Sharks forward John Scott and was under evaluation, according to the Orange County Register. Scott received a four-game suspension for the hit.

Who's hot: Getzlaf has six goals and 14 assists in the past 22 games, the most of any player in the League since Nov. 29. … Kesler has nine points in the past nine games (three goals) and 21 points in the past 23 games. … Beleskey leads the Ducks with a career-high 15 goals and has eight goals and 11 points in the past 16 games.

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