Ducks-Wild Preview

The Associated Press

The Minnesota Wild are ahead of the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference, but the teams are headed in opposite directions.

The Wild seek to end a four-game slide when they conclude their season series with the visiting Ducks on Tuesday night.

These clubs have work to do as they look to make a push for the postseason. Minnesota (25-22-8) is in 12th place in the West and Anaheim (22-24-9) is 13th.

Losses like the Wild's 3-1 defeat at home to lowly Columbus on Saturday won't help, as Minnesota lost despite a 35-19 edge in shots on goal.

Coach Mike Yeo canceled practice Friday for a lengthy meeting in an attempt to kick-start his club, but it failed to produce the desired result.

"This time of year, we know we need wins. At this time of the year, outplaying a team unfortunately doesn't matter a whole lot,'' Yeo said. "Deserving to win, unfortunately, doesn't count for a whole lot. We have to find ways to win."

Anaheim had less trouble with that same Columbus team in a 5-3 road victory Sunday. Corey Perry recorded his fifth career hat trick and combined with linemates Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf for eight points.

"I had a lot of shots," said Perry, who recorded a career-high 11. "They were bound to find a way in. I played with a couple good linemates tonight, too. They were finding me. We had a lot of chances together."

The Ducks moved to 12-2-3 in their last 17 games by scoring a season-high three power-play goals - two by Perry.

"The coaching staff did a great job of scouting,'' Getzlaf said. "We moved the puck around the way we wanted."

Still, coach Bruce Boudreau wasn't thrilled with the defensive effort against the Blue Jackets. Anaheim opened its eight-game trip with a 2-1 shootout loss to Detroit on Friday.

"I told them to never complain about winning a game," Boudreau said Sunday. "If we want to continue to win on this trip we have to get more like we played in Detroit rather than (how) we played here."

The Ducks have dropped two of three to the Wild this season, with the visiting team winning each time. Jonas Hiller has posted a 3.88 goals-against average in starting all three for Anaheim.

Minnesota has used Niklas Backstrom twice and Josh Harding once in the series. Backstrom has gone 6-2-0 with a 1.95 GAA in eight career home starts against the Ducks while Harding is 3-3-0 with a 2.69 GAA in six overall outings against them.

The Wild continue to be plagued by lack of offense, managing six goals in their last five games. Minnesota, second to last in the league with 125 goals, has been outscored 8-3 in its last two losses, which came with captain Mikko Koivu back in the lineup after he missed eight games with a shoulder injury.

Center Matt Cullen has no points in his last five contests, but has a team-high six this season against Anaheim - the team with which he spent his first five full seasons.

"This isn't the time of year for moral victories," Cullen said. "We have to find a way to put points on the board."

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