Randy Carlyle coached the Anaheim Ducks to their only Stanley Cup over six years ago.
Now, he’s looking to stop them from recording the longest winning streak in franchise history.
Carlyle and the Toronto Maple Leafs attempt to deal the Ducks their first loss in eight games Tuesday night as he faces his former team for the first time since he was fired nearly two years ago.
Carlyle spent six-plus seasons behind the Ducks’ bench, winning the Stanley Cup in 2007 before being fired Nov. 30, 2011.
He was hired by Toronto (6-3-0) in March 2012, but this will be his first meeting with the Ducks (7-1-0) due to the lockout that shortened last season.
“It seems like a long time ago because it was two years ago, but it’s the first time you coach against your former team so it’s always special,” Carlyle said. “After that, again, my worries are always about my team playing at a higher level.”
Carlyle may need the Maple Leafs to do that since Anaheim has reeled off seven straight wins after opening its 20th season with a 6-1 loss at Colorado on Oct. 2.
The Ducks are finding inspiration from their 7-1-1 start from last season, which ended with them winning the Pacific Division for the first time since doing it under Carlyle in 2006-07.
“I think we learned a lot last year in that shortened season,” captain Ryan Getzlaf said. “We knew that we had to bring it right away, or otherwise we were going to be behind the 8-ball. So we’re preparing the same way, and we’re starting the right way.”
That wasn’t the case Sunday, when the Ducks surrendered three straight goals to end the first period before rallying with five in a row to beat Dallas 6-3.
“This team never stopped believing we could come back, even last year,” said Teemu Selanne, who has one goal in each of the last three games. “That’s the one strength we have right now.”
Jonas Hiller has been another, but it’s unclear if he’ll get a chance to rebound from his worst performance of the season. He was pulled after the first period against the Stars, matching his season high by giving up three goals on 12 shots.
That effort combined with losing all three of his career meetings with Toronto behind a 5.05 goals-against average could be enough for him to remain on the bench, potentially giving Frederik Andersen his first start.
Andersen stopped all 24 shots in relief of Hiller in his NHL debut Sunday, two days after being recalled from Norfolk of the AHL with Viktor Fasth hampered by a lower-body injury.
Getzlaf and Corey Perry are tied for the team lead with nine points after getting four and three, respectively, against the Stars. Perry has three goals and four assists in five career meetings with Toronto, while Getzlaf has four assists in three games.
The Ducks haven’t faced the Maple Leafs since a 5-2 home loss Nov. 27, 2011, the penultimate game of Carlyle’s tenure.
Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul, who spent three-plus seasons with Anaheim after being drafted seventh overall in 2002, sympathizes with Carlyle’s desire to defeat his former team.
“Obviously, he wants to put his best foot forward, and for us to put our best foot forward against the team that fired him,” said Lupul, the club leader with six goals and 10 points. “I think all players can relate to that with teams that have traded them.”
That extra motivation might be needed after the Maple Leafs followed Thursday’s 3-2 loss to Carolina by falling 3-1 at Chicago two days later, giving up 78 shots over that stretch.
They’re near the bottom of the NHL with 35.6 shots allowed per game.