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Potential goalie duel as Predators host Ducks

by Brian Hunter

DUCKS (10-2-1) at PREDATORS (7-3-4)


Last 10: Anaheim 8-1-1; Nashville 6-2-2

Season series: Second of three meetings. The Ducks prevailed 3-2 in Anaheim on Jan. 26, with Corey Perry scoring the decisive goal in a shootout.

Big story: The spotlight in this game figures to be on the goaltenders. Might Jonas Hiller make his return from injury and start for the Ducks, or will it be Swedish sensation Viktor Fasth in net once again? There's little question on the Predators' side, what with Pekka Rinne recording back-to-back shutouts, giving him an NHL-leading three already this season.

Team Scope:

Ducks: The train just keeps rolling for Anaheim, which has been receiving contributions from up and down the lineup. Andrew Cogliano scored a pair of third-period goals Friday, the first of which snapped a tie and sent the Ducks on their way to a 5-2 win over the Red Wings. Perry scored just his second of the season, but when role players like Cogliano and Matt Beleskey are chipping in, it doesn't matter. Fasth stayed perfect at 7-0 with a 26-save effort.

"He's been our most valuable player," said Bobby Ryan, who also scored in the third. "He has come in and given us a chance to win every game. He's a true professional."

Predators: With the No. 1 team goals-against average at 1.64, Nashville continues to thrive despite the League's 30th-ranked offense, which averages 1.86 goals. Rinne had to battle Phoenix goalie Mike Smith to a scoreless deadlock through two periods Thursday before the Predators' offense finally broke through in a big way in the third. Gabriel Bourque's power-play goal at 2:40 opened the scoring, Nick Spaling took away the pressure for Rinne to be perfect by adding an insurance goal at 9:38 and Mike Fisher sealed the 3-0 win with 1:44 remaining.

"I don't know where we'd be without Pekka," defenseman Ryan Ellis said after Rinne finished the 19-save shutout. "He's the best goaltender in the world."

Who's hot: Cogliano has four goals this season, all in the Ducks' past three games. Fasth ranks seventh in the League with a 1.78 goals-against average and eighth with a .932 save percentage. … Rinne has shutouts in three of his last four starts for the Predators. He's allowed one goal or fewer in six of his last seven starts. He's third in GAA (1.61) and tied for second in save percentage (.943).

Injury report: Hiller (lower body) is getting closer to returning but didn't dress for Anaheim on Friday. Defensemen Cam Fowler (upper body) and Hampus Lindholm (concussion) are on injured reserve. … Nashville forward Patric Hornqvist (knee) is on injured reserve.

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