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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, February 5th (All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (34-10-14) at Anaheim Ducks (40-13-5), 10 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - With his club's recent struggles, Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau thinks a visit from the Chicago Blackhawks may be what his team needs to snap it out of this current funk.
Boudreau's theory will be put to the test on Wednesday night when the Ducks host the 'Hawks looking to avoid a third straight loss.
Once unbeatable through 60 minutes at home, Anaheim has gone 1-3-0 on a five- game homestand and has fallen to 22-4-2 as the hosting club this season. The Ducks have lost two straight in regulation at the Honda Center, falling 4-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday in a game that Anaheim never led.
Mathieu Perreault and Ryan Getzlaf tallied for the Ducks, who were coming off their first shutout loss of the season, a 2-0 setback to the Dallas Stars on Saturday. Frederik Andersen made 29 saves in defeat.
"We knew we were going to hit some patches here and there. It's frustrating with our effort and our start of the game. We're not ready to play. They came out and they played hard. Their goaltender played well early and we just didn't respond. We didn't keep playing the game," Getzlaf said.
Anaheim has lost two in a row for the first time since back-to-back shootout defeats on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3, and two straight in regulation since Nov. 12-14. A loss tonight would give the Ducks their longest skid since an 0-3-2 drought from Nov. 12-20.
Though the Ducks still lead the San Jose Sharks by nine points for first place in the Pacific Division, this current hiccup has allowed the Blackhawks to stay within three points of Anaheim for the best record in the NHL.
Chicago can make it just a one-point margin with a regulation win tonight if Anaheim doesn't get things together soon.
"It's probably great that Chicago is coming in. It's a team that if we don't play up to our best level, we're going to get our butts kicked," noted Boudreau after Anaheim's loss on Monday. "It's never good to see Chicago because they're a great team, but it's maybe something we need."
The Blackhawks could use some more victories themselves as Monday's 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings was just their second in the past seven games (2-2-3).
It was an emotional victory for Patrick Kane, who had two goals and an assist just hours after finding out that his grandfather had passed away.
"It was a tough day overall," said a tear-filled Kane afterwards. "He was one of my great friends growing up and it is just a really sad day. It was important to get the win but any time you get someone taken away from you that was so close to you, that means so much, it was tough to hear that right before the game."
Bryan Bickell, Marcus Kruger and Nick Leddy also scored for the Blackhawks, who are 2-0-2 on a seven-game road trip and two points up on St. Louis for first place in the Central Division. Corey Crawford had 31 saves.
The Blackhawks will visit the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday, then end their swing versus the New York Rangers on Feb. 27 in their first game back from the Olympic break.
Anaheim visits Nashville on Saturday before going on hiatus for the Winter Games.
The Ducks had won five straight over the Blackhawks following a victory in Chicago on Dec. 6, the first of three meetings this season, but the 'Hawks responded with a home victory on Jan. 17,
Anaheim has won three of four and nine of the last 12 meetings in Orange County.
Crawford is 6-4-1 with a 2.20 goals against average in his career versus the Ducks, while likely Anaheim starter Jonas Hiller has gone 10-5-2 lifetime versus Chicago with a 2.31 GAA.
02/05 10:43:48 ET