The second-place team in the Western Conference will try to halt its season-high losing streak Friday night by sweeping the series with the conference-leading Blackhawks, who won’t have Marian Hossa or Patrick Sharp in the lineup.
While Chicago made headlines for its NHL-record start, Anaheim (22-7-4) quietly stayed within striking distance of the West lead and helped itself by rallying for a 4-2 win over the Blackhawks on March 20.
The Ducks scored the tying and go-ahead goals in a span of 1:04 late in the third period but have been outscored 16-5 in four consecutive defeats. They were shut out for the second time this season Wednesday, 4-0 in San Jose.
“We’re not working hard enough and we’re not winning the battles. It shows on the ice,” defenseman Francois Beauchemin said after the opener to a four-game trip. “Hockey is not that complicated. You have to win the battles and work harder than the other guys. We have to use our off days to get back to basics, work on the details. We all want to get out of this.”
Anaheim will try to work its way out of its struggles by sweeping the season series with Chicago for the first time since 2005-06. The Ducks handed the Blackhawks one of their three home losses this season Feb. 12 after scoring the tying goal with 2:40 left in regulation.
Anaheim’s 3-2 shootout win was only its third victory in the past 10 trips to the United Center, and this time, the Ducks will visit a team that’s still missing two key forwards.
The Blackhawks (25-4-3) are 4-4-0 since Sharp’s upper-body injury and 1-2-0 since Hossa suffered his upper-body ailment. Both players practiced Thursday but coach Joel Quenneville wants to ensure that his two forwards are fully healed before sending them back on the ice.
“They’re out for (Friday). Don’t want to go much further than that,” Quenneville told the team’s website. “Nice to see them in practice, (but) no contact yet. We’re going to make sure they’re more than ready, maybe even give them extra time to make sure they’ll be ready.”
Despite the absences of Sharp and Hossa, the Blackhawks earned a win in their most recent game Tuesday as Ray Emery needed to stop just 16 shots.
The backup extended his NHL-record start to 12-0-0 with a 2-0 victory over Calgary, his first shutout since Feb. 1, 2010. That win also pushed Chicago five points ahead of Anaheim in the West.
Emery is expected to get another start Friday against the Ducks, a team he played in 10 games for in 2010-11 before coming to Chicago the next season. He’s 1-1-1 with a 1.97 goals-against average in three career starts against Anaheim, the most recent a 3-1 road loss on Feb. 26, 2012.
The Ducks will try to beat Emery again while trying to avoid their first five-game skid since going 0-6-1 from Nov. 13-27, 2011. Chicago’s Patrick Kane will try to help extend their woes while adding to his seven-game point streak.
Kane has an assist in each meeting this season, while defenseman Nick Leddy has scored a goal in both games. Leddy has three goals and two assists over his last five contests and a five-game point streak versus Anaheim.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf has collected two goals and seven assists over the last seven matchups with Chicago.
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