Panthers-Mighty Ducks Preview
GAME: Florida Panthers (18-23-7) at Anaheim Mighty Ducks (20-16-9).
TIME: Saturday, 10:30 p.m. EST.
The Anaheim Mighty Ducks must be used to staying on the ice a little longer. Now they may be ready to be more successful at doing it.
Looking to build off an impressive shootout victory, the Mighty Ducks might not mind getting a win in regulation this time as they host the Florida Panthers.
Each of Anaheim's last three games and five of its last eight have gone to overtime. The Ducks have lost nine times in overtime or a shootout this season, tying the Pittsburgh Penguins for most in the league.
Anaheim had won only once all season when playing past regulation, but that came against the NHL's worst team, a 4-3 shootout victory over St. Louis on Dec. 31.
The Ducks finally got another such win on Thursday and the opponent was significantly better. Chris Kunitz beat Dominik Hasek to score the only goal of the shootout and give the Mighty Ducks a 4-3 victory over the Northeast Division-leading Ottawa Senators.
"It's just 1-on-1 and the game's on the line," said Kunitz, who also had the shootout winner against St. Louis. "I think a lot of guys like to thrive in that situation and I like it a lot."
The Mighty Ducks trailed 2-0 before Kunitz got them on the board with a second-period goal. Teemu Selanne added a goal and an assist, reaching 20 goals for the 12th time in 13 seasons.
"It's sort of fun, but I should have 30," said Selanne, who leads the Ducks with 39 points. "I haven't really thought about that much but of course I've felt great all year. I've come back from knee surgery and I've got my strength back and my speed back so that's all that really matters. I've really enjoyed this year so far."
Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 30 saves and thwarted all three Senators during the shootout to improve to 13-6-8 on the season. He has not lost in regulation in five straight starts.
After a season-high, three-game winning streak, the Panthers have lost five of seven, including two in overtime. Florida gave up a season-high five power-play goals in its latest loss, 6-3 to the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday.
"Five on five competed pretty good. We outscored them," Panthers coach Jacques Martin said. "We took too many penalties and when we did take the penalties we couldn't keep the puck out of the net."
Martin Gelinas notched a goal and an assist while Jozef Stumpel and Joe Nieuwendyk also scored for the Panthers, who have lost four of five on the road.
Starting goaltender Roberto Luongo allowed five goals for the second straight game and was pulled after the second period, getting replaced by Jamie McLennan.
The Panthers have lost only twice in the last nine meetings with the Ducks, who are 8-1-2 in their last 11 home games overall.
STANDINGS (through Jan. 19): Panthers - 43 points, 4th place, 25 PB, Southeast Division. Mighty Ducks - 49 points, 3rd place, 13 PB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Panthers - Olli Jokinen, 21 goals, 28 assists and 49 points; Chris Gratton, 65 PIM. Mighty Ducks - Selanne, 20 goals and 39 points; Scott Niedermayer, 26 assists; Todd Fedoruk, 93 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 19): Panthers - Power play: 15.4 percent (38 for 247), 26th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.8 percent (251 for 307), 16th. Mighty Ducks - Power play: 15.7 percent (43 for 267), 23rd. Penalty killing: 84.1 percent (243 for 289), 10th.
GOALTENDERS: Panthers - Luongo (18-19-7, 2 SO, 3.10 GAA); McLennan (0-4-0, 3.09). Mighty Ducks - Giguere (13-6-8, 2.76); Ilya Bryzgalov (7-10-1, 2.62).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Panthers, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 27, 2003; Panthers, 3-2. At Sunrise, Fla., after trailing 2-0, the Panthers scored three unanswered goals, including Jokinen's game-winner in the third period.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Panthers - 5-17-4 on the road; Mighty Ducks - 14-6-4 at home.