After skating their way through more than half the season with barely a whiff of adversity, the slumping Anaheim Ducks will try to halt a four-game skid when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.
Anaheim has failed to gain a point during its four-game slide and hasn't won since notching a 4-2 home victory against the Blackhawks on March 20. Despite going 0-4 since that win, the Ducks are still Chicago's primary competition for the top seed in the West and are five points behind the Blackhawks.
The Ducks have been outscored by a 16-5 margin during their current slide and were handed a 4-0 setback Wednesday in San Jose. Antti Niemi stopped all 22 shots he faced and Tommy Wingels added three points to help the Sharks complete the sweep of Anaheim in the home-and-home series.
Anaheim fell behind 3-0 in the first 10 minutes of the game and was never able to mount any kind of comeback. Jonas Hiller made 25 saves in defeat for the Ducks, who hadn't lost more than two in a row this season before the current slide.
"You can't get behind 2-0, 3-0, in the first period consistently and expect to win," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It catches up to you."
Wednesday's loss marked the start of a four-game road trip for the Ducks, who are 9-3-4 as the visiting team this season.
The Ducks are 2-0 against Chicago this season and Boudreau's club turned a 2-1 deficit after 40 minutes into a 4-2 win when the teams met over a week ago. The clubs have split the last 10 encounters overall, but Anaheim has lost seven of its past 10 games in Chicago.
The Central-leading Blackhawks snapped a two-game slide in their last trip to the ice, posting Tuesday's 2-0 win in Calgary.
Ray Emery stopped 16 shots to notch his first shutout of the season in Tuesday's triumph, while Nick Leddy and Brent Seabrook each scored. Patrick Kane assisted on both goals for the Blackhawks, who avoided their first three- game losing streak since February of last season.
"It was a big win for us, especially after a couple losses where we gave up a lead late or a tied game," said Kane, who extended his point streak to seven games. "It was huge to shut the door, especially in the last minutes of the [third] period and not give them anything."
Kane has five goals and nine assists during his seven-game run.
The Blackhawks have a superb 12-2-1 record at the United Center this season and are wrapping a three-game homestand tonight. Chicago will visit Detroit on Sunday before playing seven of their next 10 games in the Windy City.