Blackhawks try to rebound in Anaheim
The Anaheim Ducks will play their first home game in nearly three weeks when they host the Chicago Blackhawks in today's battle at the Honda Center.
The Ducks are coming off a strong road trip, posting a 5-1-2 mark during an eight-game swing that began in Detroit back on Feb. 8. Anaheim will now play three of its next four games in Orange County, where the club is 15-13-2 this season.
Anaheim is six points out of a playoff spot in the West, but has played like a contender for well over a month now, going 16-3-4 in its last 23 games.
The Blackhawks, meanwhile, have lost two in row on the heels of a four-game winning streak and will try to get back on track against a team that it had success against earlier this season.
Chicago will try for a sweep of its season series against the Ducks, although the teams haven't met since Dec. 16, which was weeks before Anaheim began its surge. Still, the Blackhawks have claimed five of the last seven encounters with the Ducks and have taken two of their last three tilts at the Honda Center.
The Blackhawks are currently sitting sixth in the West, two points ahead of the San Jose Sharks, but Chicago has not played like a playoff team over the last month, going 4-10-1 in its last 15 contests.
Chicago has scored just one goal over its current two-game slide and was dealt a 4-0 loss Saturday in Los Angeles. Dustin Brown posted a hat trick for the Kings, while the Blackhawks went 0-for-6 on the power play. Chicago has failed to score on its last 39 opportunities with the man advantage and the club's last power-play tally came on Jan. 24 against the Nashville Predators.
"It was tough watching tonight, said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville. "Our power play had a tough go and there's obviously worked. Special teams is a big part of winning and losing."
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford was pulled after yielding four goals on 10 shots in less than two periods for the Blackhawks, who are just 12-16-3 on the road this season. Ray Emery finished the game by making 20 saves.
Chicago has played its last three games without captain Jonathan Toews, who is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury that is believed to be a concussion. Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson will also miss today's test with an undisclosed injury. Hjalmarsson sat out seven games with a concussion before returning to action Thursday against Dallas, but he was not able to play yesterday in Los Angeles.
Anaheim closed its recent trek with Thursday's shootout decision at Carolina. Saku Koivu scored the game-winning goal in the second round of the decisive phase, leading the Ducks to a 3-2 victory at RBC Center.
Koivu picked up the puck and moved in slowly before deking to his backhand then switching to his forehand in close and sliding the puck past Hurricanes netminder Justin Peters. Jonas Hiller stopped Jeff Skinner, Eric Staal and Brandon Sutter to secure the win for the Ducks.
"The guys looked a little tired, and I just didn't want to get scored on," Hiller said. "We played better in the third and changed the game around and came away with a win."
Luca Sbisa and Corey Perry scored in regulation for the Ducks, while Hiller finished with 30 saves on 32 shots.
Anaheim will be back on the road tomorrow when it faces Colorado, but the Ducks will then return to southern California for home tests against Calgary and Los Angeles.