Blackhawks-Ducks Preview

TOM CASTRO (STATS Senior Editor)
The Associated Press

The Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks have the highest point totals in the NHL, but they haven't been playing like the top teams in the league of late.

Chicago took the latest showdown with Anaheim last month at home, and the Western Conference powers close out their three-game season series Wednesday night at Honda Center.

The Blackhawks (34-10-14) ended the Ducks' eight-game winning streak Jan. 17 with a 4-2 victory, which also closed out an 18-1-0 stretch by Anaheim. The Ducks have yet to regain that overpowering form, going 4-5-0 starting with the loss at Chicago.

Anaheim (40-13-5) has lost two in a row for the first time since Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 after a 4-2 defeat to visiting Columbus on Monday. The Ducks have dropped four of six at home - all the losses coming in regulation - since starting 20-0-2 there.

The Ducks are the second-highest scoring team in the league behind the Blackhawks (205) with 191 goals, but they've managed 21 in the last nine games.

Anaheim, 4 for 26 on the power play since scoring six times on 11 opportunities against Vancouver on Jan. 15, has lost three of four overall.

''If we were a .500 hockey club, this would be the norm. But it's not,'' coach Bruce Boudreau said. ''It all boils down to will and want, and (the Blue Jackets) wanted it a lot more than us. ... I didn't see us winning the battles. That's a pure indicator, to me, that we didn't have a sense of urgency.''

Boudreau thinks his team may gain one from a welcome opponent in the defending Stanley Cup champion.

''It's never good to see Chicago because they're a great team, but it's probably great that Chicago's coming in,'' he said. ''That's maybe what we need, because if we don't play up to our best level against a team like that, then we're going to get our butts kicked.''

The Blackhawks, though, have only been flashing their championship form in spurts in 2014, going 6-3-7 and winning two straight games once. Chicago has looked more consistent in the past week, going 2-0-2 to open a six-game road trip while scoring at least four goals three times.

The club won for the second time in three games and completed a three-game season sweep of struggling Los Angeles on Monday, winning 5-3 to pull within three points of Anaheim.

Patrick Kane had two goals and an assist hours after learning about the death of his grandfather, while Nick Leddy added a goal and an assist. Kane had been struggling with two goals and five assists in his previous 16 games.

''He's a proud guy, and I think his grandfather meant a lot to him,'' coach Joel Quenneville said. ''It was probably a very emotional night for him, but he played an unbelievable game.''

Marian Hossa extended his point streak to four with an assist, giving him five points in that stretch. The forward scored a short-handed goal and an empty net goal in the January win over Anaheim - which stopped a five-game skid in the series - to give him five goals with three assists in his last eight games in the series.

"We know where they are, but that's not our only worry," Hossa said of chasing the Ducks in the standings. "We try to worry about our game, how we play and we know if we play well enough to win hockey games eventually we're gonna get closer and closer, and that's our goal."

Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf has eight goals and 12 assists in his last 16 contests, and has recorded 13 points in his past 10 in this series.

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