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HOCKEY

Ducks return home to face Preds

A season-opening set through Finland and Sweden coupled completed seven-game road trip has left the Ducks looking to get into some sort of routine. Playing 11 of their next 13 games in the friendly confines of the Honda Center should help stabilize things a bit.

Anaheim looks to make up some ground after its subpar jaunt and avoid a sixth straight defeat as it hosts the Nashville Predators.

The Ducks split their two games in Europe and won four of their first five games to get off to a solid start. Consecutive home losses then kicked off a 1-5-3 run that included losses in six of their seven road games in a row. Three of them did come beyond regulation, but that wasn't the case in Saturday's blowout in Detroit.

Perhaps due to it being the final leg of the trip, the Ducks were outshot 18-7 in the first period and then 18-6 in the middle frame. Detroit posted 50 shots to Anaheim's 22 and easily bested the weary Ducks, 5-0.

"We just didn't have a starting point for our hockey club," Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. "We couldn't make a tape-to-tape pass."

Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller turned aside 40-of-45 shots before being pulled in the third period. Dan Ellis made five saves in relief.

The Ducks will try to avoid losing six in a row for the first time since Nov. 14-26 of last year and begin a three-game homestand tonight. The furthest they have to travel over this 13-game stretch is to Phoenix on Nov. 23. Their other road game is the opener of a home-and-home set with Los Angeles on Nov. 16.

"Trips like that are an absolute nightmare," Anaheim's Bobby Ryan said on Monday. "We were just starting to recover and get back to normal from Europe and you got to go do that. It makes it tough to be successful, obviously. We need to play the kind of hockey, the brand of hockey that we're accustomed to. With nine of our next 11 at home, we can get back to it, put that in the past and move on."

The Ducks aren't likely to have forward George Parros for most of this stay at home as he underwent laser eye surgery on Monday to repair a torn retina in his left eye suffered Friday in practice. He is expected to miss four weeks of action.

While Anaheim has had some time to rest its legs following its trip, the Predators get right back to it tonight after losing a 4-3 decision in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

The Predators got first-period goals from Matt Halischuk and Craig Smith to erase a two-goal deficit, but the Kings scored another two goals in the second period. Patric Hornqvist made it interesting by lighting the lamp with 1:21 to play, but the Preds couldn't get the equalizer.

Anders Lindback got his first start of the season and made 26 saves as the Predators saw their five-game point streak (4-0-1) come to an end.

"He played good," Hornqvist said of Lindback. "It's not his fault we lost this game. We can't give two-goal leads twice. That's not going to work in this league. They played a good game. We didn't play that well and they deserve the two points."

Pekka Rinne had been the only goaltender to start every one of his club's games up until last night, going 7-4-2 with a 2.33 goals-against average and three shutouts in 13 games. One of his whitewashes came at home versus the Ducks on Oct. 29, when he made 20 saves in a 3-0 win.

Hornqvist had a goal in that game as part of his club record-tying six-game goal-scoring streak. He matches runs accomplished by J.P. Dumont (Dec. 29, 2007-Jan. 8, 2008) and Alexander Radulov (Jan. 21-Feb. 2, 2008).

Nashville, which wraps a five-game road trip tonight, has won three in a row and six of its last eight over Anaheim. The Preds have lost nine of 12 at the Honda Center.