Wild-Ducks Preview

As good as the Anaheim Ducks have been at home lately, the last
thing the Minnesota Wild need is Kyle Palmieri to get going
offensively.

Palmieri will try to build off his first NHL hat trick and help
the Ducks extend their longest home win streak in three years on
Friday night when they host the Wild, who hope they’ve ended their
struggles on the road.

After its season-high six-game winning streak came to an end in
a 5-2 loss at Los Angeles on Monday, Anaheim (14-3-1) got back on
track two days later with a 5-1 victory over Nashville for its
seventh straight at home. It’s the Ducks’ longest run there since a
club-record 11-game stretch in the 2009-10 season.

“We just turned the page,” center Ryan Getzlaf said. “In this
short season, if you can resist losing two in a row, it changes a
lot of things.”

The Ducks have yet to lose two straight and look to carry their
momentum into March after tying a franchise record for wins in a
month with 11 in February. They’re tied with Montreal for the
second-most points in the NHL (29) behind Chicago’s 37.

A big reason for Anaheim’s success has been its offense, which
ranks among the best in the league at 3.33 goals per game. Corey
Perry and Getzlaf assisted on all three of Palmieri’s goals as he
took the team scoring lead and ended a 10-game goal drought with
the sixth natural hat trick in club history.

Palmieri, who has scored six of his seven goals at home, hopes
to keep it going against a Minnesota team he burned for two goals
in a 3-1 home win on Feb. 1.

“It’s been an up-and-down season for me, but I hope that this
gives me the confidence to put together a nice little hot streak,”
Palmieri said.

Palmieri helped Anaheim continue its recent tear on the power
play with his second such goal of the season. The Ducks have
converted 8 of 14 opportunities in their last four games.

That could pose a problem for whomever Minnesota decides to
start in goal in the second of back-to-back games. Niklas
Backstrom, who stopped 28 shots in the loss to Anaheim, had 25
saves Thursday and benefited from rare offensive outburst in a 4-3
win at Phoenix.

Backup Darcy Kuemper split his first two starts and hasn’t
played since blocking 29 of 31 shots in a 3-2 win over Detroit on
Feb. 17.

While the Wild (10-7-2) have won four of five overall, they have
12 goals and are 2 for 22 on the power play over their last seven
road games.

Minnesota, however, will try to carry over the momentum from its
first four-goal effort in more than a month. Dany Heatley had two
goals and Jason Zucker scored for the second consecutive
contest.

“We’ve been emphasizing our starts and trying to make sure we
have a quick start and try to play with a lead,” Zucker said.

Zach Parise leads the team with eight goals, but has only three
in his last 14 contests. He had two goals and three assists in his
previous five against the Ducks before failing to earn a point in
the last trip to Anaheim.

Minnesota is likely to face Viktor Fasth after he finished with
26 saves to earn the win in the first meeting. The rookie, who is
9-1-0 overall, is undefeated in four home starts with a 1.23
goals-against average.