Lightning-Ducks Preview

The Associated Press

Defensive issues in the third period are a major problem for the Anaheim Ducks.

Perhaps drawing some inspiration from one of the franchise's greatest defensemen can help.

On a night when they'll honor Scott Niedermayer, the Ducks will try to solve their late-game issues and snap their longest losing streak in two years Friday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Anaheim (15-6-3) has lost five games in a row for the first time since dropping seven straight from Nov. 13-27, 2011.

The Ducks have been outscored 6-1 in the third period during the current slide, and that includes giving up a goal in a 5-1 loss at Tampa Bay on Nov. 14.

Those issues persisted before a bizarre sequence capped Wednesday's 4-3 overtime loss to New Jersey.

Anaheim allowed the tying goal with 1:01 left in regulation before Ben Lovejoy's attempted clearance in front of the net hit Corey Perry, and caromed past Jonas Hiller for the decisive score.

Coach Bruce Boudreau could forgive the error, but not the third-period goal.

"That's all I talked about (in) the previous two games," Boudreau said. "We played not to lose in the third period. You can't play the game in your own zone and expect to win. ... I don't even call it a mistake (on the final goal). It was an accident. That's the way the game was going. You knew something bad was going to happen."

Before Boudreau's team tries to get back in the win column, the Ducks will honor Niedermayer for his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Niedermayer played for the Ducks from 2005-10 and won the Conn Smythe Award while captaining them to the 2007 Stanley Cup.

Hiller hasn't been particularly sharp his last two starts, allowing nine goals on 45 shots. He stopped only 15 of 20 shots last week against the Lightning.

Ryan Getzlaf is doing his part in the offensive end, collecting six goals with three assists during a five-game point streak. He has three of those points in three games since returning from an upper-body injury that sidelined him for three, including the meeting with Tampa Bay.

Anaheim's captain has two goals and three assists in three home meetings with the Lightning.

Like the Ducks, Tampa Bay (14-8-0) has suddenly found itself struggling defensively.

The Lightning have been outscored 16-6 while losing the first three of this four-game road trip after winning six of the previous seven contests. The slide continued with Thursday's 5-1 defeat at San Jose.

"There have been six points on the table, and we have yet to find one," coach Jon Cooper said. "To me this is a rough trip. Things had been going our way for a long time this year to start the season, and now not so much."

Part of Tampa Bay's problems likely stem from losing top scorer Steven Stamkos indefinitely to a broken right leg. The team had won its first two games without him before embarking on this jaunt.

Tyler Johnson is trying to pick up the scoring slack, getting a point in each of the last four games. The center's streak started with an assist against the Ducks, and he kept it going with his fifth goal of the season Thursday.

Valtteri Filppula was held without a point and was a minus-3 against the Sharks after scoring three goals and setting up another over the previous three games. He had a season-high three points against the Ducks earlier this month.

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