Ducks-Coyotes Preview

Thanks to a unique twist in the lockout-shortened schedule, the
Anaheim Ducks will be seeing a lot of the Phoenix Coyotes over the
next few days.

With the way Anaheim has been playing lately, the opponent
hasn’t seemed to matter anyway.

The Ducks – off to the best start in team history – seek their
13th win in 15 games on Saturday night when they begin a stretch of
three games in five days against the Coyotes.

“With the shortened season, these are some of the quirks that
you deal with,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “Every point is
valuable, and especially when you’re playing a team that’s leading
your division, it magnifies those points even more.”

Red-hot Anaheim picked up two more points on Friday when it
survived a late Minnesota rally for a 3-2 win – the team’s eighth
straight at home. The Ducks (15-3-1) surpassed the 2006-07 Stanley
Cup team – which opened 13-2-4 – for the best start in franchise
history.

“You never want to be satisfied, and you never want to take
anything for granted,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We just want to
keep going and see how far it can lead.”

The Ducks have been nearly as good on the road with a 7-2-1
record. Anaheim, however, had its six-game winning streak snapped
in a 5-2 loss at Los Angeles on Monday.

It was a rare off offensive performance for an Anaheim team that
ranks among the NHL leaders at 3.32 goals per game and has been
even more potent at 3.4 on the road.

Ryan Getzlaf has helped lead the way with three goals and seven
assists during a five-game point streak.

Linemate Corey Perry has four goals and 12 points in his
seven-game run. He has 14 goals and nine assists in his last 22
against the Coyotes.

Perry is also tied with Saku Koivu for the team lead with three
power-play goals. The Ducks have been tough to stop on the man
advantage recently, converting 8 of 15 opportunities in their last
five contests.

They may have a difficult time matching that efficiency against
a Phoenix team that has killed 25 of 28 penalties in its last nine
games.

Mike Smith will try to get back on track after allowing four
goals on 19 shots before being replaced by Jason LaBarbera in the
third period of a 4-3 loss to Minnesota on Thursday.

While Smith has given up 11 goals in his last three games, he’s
won five of six home starts with a 1.26 goals-against average
against the Ducks.

The Coyotes (9-8-3) started February with a 6-2-1 record, but
closed the month by going 1-2-1 in their last four. The slide has
coincided with the loss of leading goal scorer Martin Hanzal, who
has been moved to injured reserve with an upper-body injury.

Kyle Chipchura has helped pick up the slack with three goals and
an assists in four games since Hanzal went down, while Mikkel
Boedker has chipped in with a goal and four assists over that
span.

After Jonas Hiller had 31 saves in Friday’s win, the Ducks are
expected to start Viktor Fasth against the Coyotes. Fasth, who is
9-1-0 overall, has won five of six road starts with a 2.41 GAA.

The Coyotes, who have won three of the last four meetings in
Phoenix, will also host the Ducks on Monday before the teams move
to Anaheim on Wednesday.