The Anaheim Ducks entered the All-Star break as one of the hottest teams in the NHL. They’re hoping the long layoff hasn’t cooled them off.
The Ducks attempt to match their longest home winning streak of the season when they face the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night.
Anaheim (28-20-4) won for the 10th time in 13 games Jan. 25, beating Columbus 3-2 before taking a week off for the All-Star break.
The Ducks’ momentum was partly built on success in games decided by one goal. Six of their last eight victories, including the last four, have ended in that scenario.
“Even those nights when we haven’t played that well we’ve still found a way to win the games. That’s a sign of a good team,” said right wing Teemu Selanne(notes), who has five goals and eight assists over the last 12 games.
Anaheim’s surge has also come without captain Ryan Getzlaf(notes), who’s scheduled to be back next week. The center has returned to practice and is recovering from nasal fractures suffered when he was hit with a shot during a win at Phoenix on Dec. 28.
“Other people have stepped into larger roles.” coach Randy Carlyle told the team’s official website.
Corey Perry(notes) has done his part with six goals and four assists over the last 13 games. The right wing leads the team with 25 goals and 51 points, and had two assists for Team Staal in an 11-10 loss to Team Lidstrom at Sunday’s All-Star game.
Hiller, tied for the league lead with 25 wins, is 7-1-0 with a 1.60 goals-against average and two shutouts in his last nine home games, including a 37-save effort in a 1-0 win over San Jose on Jan. 9.
He owns a 1.30 GAA in winning his last three overall starts against the Sharks.
Anaheim’s 17-7-1 home record is among the best in the NHL, and the team has won eight of nine at the Honda Center, including four in a row.
The Ducks won a season-high five straight there in early November.
The Sharks (26-19-6) are opening a season-high seven-game road trip, and may have created some strong momentum with a 5-0-1 run.
Coach Todd McLellan, however, isn’t pleased after San Jose needed to overcome a three-goal deficit in order to win 5-3 over Phoenix on Tuesday.
“If we leave here patting ourselves on the back, we’ve got huge problems,” McLellan said. “I was really disappointed in our group. Very disappointed in the lack of drive and lack of passion to come out and play. That’s the last thing I expected. I do give them credit they found a way to dig in and come back.”
The center has just one goal and two assists in his last 14 meetings with the Ducks, although the Sharks are still 7-2-1 in their last 10 regular-season games in the series.
It’s unclear if center Logan Couture(notes) will be available after the flu forced him to miss Tuesday’s victory. Couture, who leads the Sharks and all NHL rookies with 22 goals, has just one tally in three games versus Anaheim.