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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, April 4th (All times Eastern)
Nashville Predators (33-32-11) at Anaheim Ducks (50-18-8), 10 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - After pulling off a pair of improbable comeback wins in their last two outings, the Anaheim Ducks will take aim at a fourth consecutive victory Friday when they host the Nashville Predators.
The Ducks have already clinched a playoff spot, but the club is still locked in a battle with San Jose for the Pacific Division crown.
Despite going 5-0-1 over the last six games and notching wins in three straight contests, Anaheim is still only one point ahead of the Sharks for first place with six games left on its schedule. The Ducks hold two games in hand over the Sharks, who recorded a home win against Los Angeles on Thursday.
Anaheim would like to get off to a better start on Friday after being forced to rally for its last two wins. The Ducks trailed the Winnipeg Jets by a 4-0 score late in the second period on Monday before winning 5-4 in overtime for the greatest comeback in franchise history. The club then overcame a mere 2-0 deficit in the third period on Wednesday to down the Edmonton Oilers.
After Jordan Eberle scored early in the third period to hand Edmonton a 2-0 cushion, the Ducks notched three unanswered goals to win in regulation. Corey Perry scored twice to tie the game before setting up Francois Beauchemin for the game-winning one-timer with 1:21 to play.
Perry's first goal came just 37 seconds after Eberle put the Oilers up by two goals. The two scores allowed Perry to reach the 40-goal mark for the second time in his career. The 28-year-old had a career-best 50 goals during the 2010-11 campaign.
"We always know we have a chance," Beauchemin said. "We're pretty good playing with the lead, as well. It's a lot less stressful playing with a lead. We killed a big penalty just before my goal. That was a big momentum change."
Frederik Andersen stopped 30-of-32 shots for the Ducks, who have won three in a row for the first time since beating Nashville, St. Louis and Carolina in a stretch that spanned the Olympic break from Feb. 8-March 2.
Anaheim is capping a three-game homestand on Friday and boasts a 27-7-4 record in Orange County this season.
The Predators, who are close to being mathematically eliminated from postseason contention, will try to avoid getting swept in the season series on Friday. Nashville is 0-2 in the series heading into its last game against the Ducks, who recorded two road wins versus the Preds earlier this season.
All told, the Predators have dropped five straight in this series and head into Friday's matchup on a two-game road slide against the Ducks.
Nashville has a solid 4-1-1 mark over its last six games, but the surge comes too late as the Preds still sit eight points out of the last playoff berth in the West.
The Preds do enter Friday well rested, as Barry Trotz's club has been since recording Sunday's 4-3 shootout win over visiting Washington. Craig Smith scored in the second round of the shootout to help the Nashville get the win.
Patric Hornqvist scored twice in the first period for the Predators, while Shea Weber had a goal and an assist. Carter Hutton stopped 23-of-26 shots to record the win.
"I thought we deserved the game," Trotz said. "I thought 5-on-5, we were much better than they were tonight. We managed the pucks well."
Nashville is opening a three-game road trip on Friday and is 16-15-6 as the guest this season. After the swing, the Preds will return to Music City for a two-game homestand before capping the regular season at Minnesota on April 13.
On the injury front, the Preds could get centerman Paul Gaustad and rookie defenseman Seth Jones back in the lineup tonight. Gaustad has sat out the last six games with an upper-body injury and Jones has missed the last four title due to a concussion.
04/04 11:27:13 ET