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Ducks visit Preds hoping to avoid 4th straight loss
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Anaheim Ducks have one last chance to rebound before the Olympic break as they visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena.
The Ducks have lost three in a row in regulation for the first time this season and the slide also is the club's longest since going 0-3-2 from Nov. 12-20.
What is surprising is that this rough patch began at home, where Anaheim was 21-1-2 this season before posting a 1-4-0 residency. The Ducks were shut out twice on the stand, including Wednesday's 2-0 setback to the Chicago Blackhawks.
With the loss, Anaheim now leads Chicago by just one point for the top spot in the overall NHL standings.
Jonas Hiller allowed both goals on 25 shots for the Ducks, who also have seen their edge over second-place San Jose in the Pacific Division trimmed to five points.
However, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau isn't ready to panic, citing a solid effort versus the Blackhawks.
"I thought we played a pretty good hockey game. It was a 1-0 game for 57 minutes or so. It could've very easily been 1-0 the other way, so I'm not going to sit here and (complain) like we're dying here," said Boudreau. "We're still in first place overall in the league. There are a lot of teams that would love to be in our position right now. We will overcome this and we're going to be fine."
The Ducks will open up with a five-game homestand following the Olympic break, which begins on Sunday for the league, but won't have forward Teemu Selanne for tonight's road contest. He will be a healthy scratch and did not travel to Nashville as the 43-year-old prepares to travel to Sochi, Russia to play for Team Finland in the Winter Games.
Selanne had a goal and Ryan Getzlaf scored twice in a 4-3 win over the hosting Predators on Jan. 9. It was Anaheim's fourth straight victory in this series and second in a row in Nashville.
Craig Smith had a goal and an assist in the setback for the Predators and scored both of his team's goals in Thursday's 3-2 overtime setback to the Minnesota Wild.
Smith now has 18 goals on the campaign, while Carter Hutton made 33 saves in Nashville's second straight post-regulation setback. The Preds had won two in row prior to the losses.
"Carter Hutton gave us a chance tonight. He got us a point," said Predators coach Barry Trotz. "We hit three posts. They had a little luck on their side."
It was a rough Thursday for Nashville, which saw its play-by-play announcer Pete Weber rushed to the hospital during morning skate after suffering a heart attack. He underwent a successful heart procedure and will also miss tonight's game as he recovers.
Also during morning skate, Preds general manager David Poile was hit in the face by an errant puck while standing near the benches. He needed to undergo surgery to repair damage to his nose and eye and also received stitches for a facial laceration.
Nashville was still able to shake off the distractions to earn a point and with 60 on the season the club is four back of Phoenix for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.
The Predators are slated to play their next six games at home, including the first five in their return from the Olympic break.
02/08 10:48:52 ET
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