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Predators try to continue climb against red-hot Ducks

by David Kalan

DUCKS (32-8-5) at PREDATORS (19-19-6)


Last 10: Anaheim 9-1-0; Nashville 3-4-3

Season series: This is the first of three games between the Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators. The Ducks went 3-0-0 against the Predators in 2012-13.

Big story: Slowly but surely the Predators are scratching and clawing their way back into the Western Conference postseason race. To earn a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Nashville, which has earned points in five of its past six games, will need to hop over the Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks.

Team Scope:

Ducks: Anaheim has won nine of 10 and is 18-0-2 at home this season. The Pacific Division leaders wenr 4-0-0 on a four-game homestand against fellow Stanley Cup contenders the San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins.

The Ducks scored 20 goals in the four games and had at least four goals in each.

"It shows we can play with anybody," Ducks forward Mathieu Perreault said after Anaheim defeated Boston 5-2 on Tuesday. "Even when we play the better teams in the League, we’re able to stand up and win games. It feels like we find ways to win games no matter what."

Anaheim, which has a nine-point lead over second-place San Jose in the Pacific, has lost one game in regulation since Thanksgiving.

Predators: After losing in regulation once in its previous five games, Nashville opened a five-game homestand at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday with a 3-2 win against San Jose.

Picking up points over the past two weeks has enabled the Predators to creep up on the Stars and Wild in the Central Division, but they remain seven points back of playoff position.

This game is followed by visits from the Ottawa Senators and Minnesota.

Who's hot: Ducks center Nick Bonino has three goals and four assists in the past four games. ... Predators defenseman Shea Weber has seven points in the past four games.

Injury report: Ducks forward Dustin Penner (upper body) is questionable. Defensemen Bryan Allen (undisclosed injury), Luca Sbisa (torn tendon in hand) and Sheldon Souray (torn ligament in wrist) are on injured reserve. … Predators forward Patric Hornqvist (lower body) is questionable. Goaltender Pekka Rinne (infection in hip) is expected to be out until late February.

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