The Anaheim Ducks continue to dig themselves out of an season hole that has made reaching the playoffs a difficult task. They'll try to pick up their latest victory over a Minnesota Wild team that continues to move south after a great start.
The Ducks visit the Wild tonight riding a five-game point streak and having notched a 12-2-3 mark over their past 17 games. That has Anaheim 10 points back of a playoff spot.
The Wild, meanwhile, held the best record in hockey on Dec. 13, but they now sit 12th overall in the Western Conference and a mere five points ahead of the Ducks.
Anaheim continued its surge on Sunday, recording a 5-3 victory over a Columbus squad that had just handed Minnesota a two-goal loss the previous day.
Corey Perry set the tone for Anaheim, scoring 46 seconds in en route to his second hat trick of the season and fifth of his career. Bobby Ryan also scored and had an assist and Ryan Getzlaf tallied three assists. Jason Blake scored and Jonas Hiller made 24 saves.
The Ducks bounced back from a 2-1 shootout loss to the Red Wings on Friday and improved to 3-0-2 in their last five.
"It was important, especially because [the Blue Jackets] played last night, to get a lead," Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau said. "When you get a lead on a team and they played last night, it's a little easier to make them quit."
Anaheim has now split the first two of a season-high eight-game road trip.
"It sucks every time you lose," Backstrom said. "Winning is obviously more fun, but at least tonight we gave ourselves a chance to win."
Minnesota is expected to be without forward Cal Clutterbuck this evening after he suffered a lower-body injury versus the Blue Jackets.
Tonight is the final of four regular-season meetings between the Ducks and Wild. Minnesota has won two straight and four of the past five overall, but had a five-game series home winning streak snapped in a 3-2 decision with Anaheim on Oct. 27.