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30-32-11

Predators-Ducks Preview

AP - Sports

The Nashville Predators are looking to sweep the season series from the Anaheim Ducks, but also could be trying to give Pekka Rinne some much-needed rest.

Rinne generally dominates the Ducks but the Predators likely don't want to wear out their star goalie as they head into Sunday's matchup at Honda Center.

Nashville (41-22-8) is two points behind Detroit in the race for the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference after falling 4-2 at Los Angeles on Saturday. Rinne made 23 saves, surrendering at least four goals for the third time in six starts.

Coach Barry Trotz will decide between Rinne, who has faced a league-high 1,942 shots, and little-used Anders Lindback for Sunday. Rinne - tied with Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury for the NHL lead with 39 victories - has posted a 1.49 goals-against average in winning his last seven starts against the Ducks (30-31-11), taking all three matchups this season.

Lindback, meanwhile, has a 3.25 GAA in losing his last five starts. His lone start against the Ducks was a 5-4 road loss Nov. 7, 2010.

Nashville has won five straight over Anaheim. Top Ducks goal-scorers Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan and Teemu Selanne have none against the Predators this season.

Perry, who leads Anaheim with 34 goals, returned to the lineup for Friday's 4-2 loss to the Kings. He missed two games because of an injured right shoulder after playing in 272 straight.

The Ducks are 1-3-1 in their last five after falling behind 3-0 in the first period Friday and never recovering.

"It starts in the first period and we weren't ready to start on time," captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "The first period we weren't even out there. It was a one-team hockey game. But our goalie (Jonas Hiller) played awesome again tonight and we weren't able to get back into that game. We just weren't able to close it out."

Hiller has gone 17-9-5 with a 1.91 GAA while starting 31 straight games, but Anaheim could be playing for pride since its recent tailspin has left it 11 points out of the West's final playoff spot.

"We're looking at the standings every day and it gets more and more frustrating just the way we're playing," defenseman Luca Sbisa said. "Every game for us is like a playoff Game 7 so time is running out for us so we gotta figure it out."

The Predators were undone in the third period Saturday by yielding three goals in a span of 8 minutes, 15 seconds after the teams were tied heading into the final 20 minutes.

"Things are going to happen - a good play, a mistake here and there - but you just have to hold it at that and then see if you can get the next one and get it tied up," Trotz said. "We didn't do a good job. We turned the puck over in the neutral zone."

Defenseman Kevin Klein returned after missing eight games with an upper-body injury while center Paul Gaustad is out with what is described as the same thing.

Hiller is 1-4-0 with a 3.89 GAA in his last six starts against the Predators.

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