Ducks-Hurricanes Preview

The Associated Press

The Anaheim Ducks' nine-game point streak ended when they failed to control one high-scoring center. Now they get a look at another.

The Ducks will try to slow down red-hot Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes in the finale of their eight-game trip Thursday night.

This matchup features last-place teams that still have hopes of reaching the playoffs. Anaheim (25-25-10) is nine points out of the Pacific Division lead while Carolina (23-26-11) is eight points out of first place in the Southeast.

The Ducks went 6-0-3 over a nine-game stretch before a 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday as Steven Stamkos had two goals and an assist.

"If you looked at their lineup, they had one line that can score and the other lines were out there to defend," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "And that's what we knew was going to happen. When we finally woke up, we couldn't get the third one by them."

Anaheim fell despite a 30-16 advantage in shots on goal.

"We let two points slip away,'' left wing Bobby Ryan said. "It's tough. I think we threw everything we had at them late and couldn't find a way to beat their goalie. You get behind the eight ball early and it's tough to claw back, especially this time of year."

Anaheim is close to returning home, where it last played Feb. 8 in a 3-2 win over Carolina in which Corey Perry scored in overtime.

Staal had a goal for the Hurricanes in that game, the start of a six-game point streak in which he has six goals and five assists. This is his longest such streak since an eight-game run Jan. 1-15, 2011.

Staal had two goals and an assist in a 5-0 victory over Washington on Monday. He scored his second short-handed goal in four contests.

The Hurricanes have gone 5-1-2 in their last eight.

"Hopefully (the team's confidence) continues to stay where it's at, or go higher," Staal said. "That's the biggest thing, the confidence in our game and the confidence in the way that (coach) Kirk (Muller) wants us to play. We're getting results because of the way we're playing, and that's always a good feeling."

Goaltender Cam Ward missed Monday's game with an unspecified lower body injury. Muller said he hoped Ward could return against the Ducks.

Justin Peters has started the last two home games for Carolina, recording his first career shutout Monday with 17 saves.

"It's nice to know that (from) a confidence level, whomever we slide in there, we now know that we have a chance to win,'' Muller said. "That's all we ask of our goalies - give us a chance to win every night. (Peters) did his job.''

Boudreau's former team, the Capitals, have been outscored 8-0 in their last two visits to the RBC Center. The coach won his final four games at Raleigh with Washington, which fired him Nov. 28.

Perry will try to start a new streak after his five-game run with 13 points ended Tuesday.

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