While they’re aiming to finish on top in a tight race for the Pacific Division title, the Anaheim Ducks also want to be playing their best heading into the playoffs.
It appears the Ducks still have some work to do after taking a hit in both quests over the weekend.
Anaheim hopes to add to its narrow division lead Monday night with its sixth straight victory over the Vancouver Canucks, who look to keep their very slim playoff chances alive.
The Ducks (50-20-8) moved into first place in the Pacific with a 5-1 victory in Vancouver on March 29. That victory – Anaheim’s fourth in the five-game season series – came during a 5-0-1 stretch that had the Ducks feeling confident.
Anaheim, however, has taken a step back with consecutive losses to non-playoff teams. The Ducks suffered a 5-2 setback to visiting Nashville on Friday before falling 4-2 at West-worst Edmonton on Sunday.
”We’re struggling finding ways to win hockey games right now,” captain Ryan Getzlaf said after his team remained one point ahead of idle San Jose.
The Ducks could get Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu back Monday after the veteran forwards were rested against the Oilers. Defenseman Cam Fowler and forward Tim Jackman aren’t expected to play due to injury.
The Ducks, two points shy of a franchise-record 110, also trail St. Louis by three points for the top seed in the West. They now appear to be in a good position to bounce back against a Vancouver team they’ve dominated recently.
Anaheim has outscored Vancouver 24-7 during a five-game winning streak dating to last season. A victory Monday would give the Ducks a season sweep of the Canucks (35-32-11) for the first time in franchise history.
Corey Perry, who leads the Ducks with 42 goals, has played a major role in that success with five goals and nine points against them this season. Nick Bonino also has chipped in with four goals and an assist in the four meetings.
Frederik Andersen has won three of those games in net, but he didn’t make the two-game trip after taking a hard shot to the face Friday. Jonas Hiller, who has given up seven goals in the last two games, finished with 17 saves in a 4-3 overtime win over visiting Vancouver on Jan. 5.
He’s expected to get another start against the Canucks, who have totaled just six goals over their last four games.
Vancouver’s Eddie Lack, who posted a career-high 45 saves in the January loss, stopped 25 shots Saturday in a 2-1 home win over Los Angeles that snapped the team’s three-game losing streak.
Alexander Edler and Brad Richardson scored third-period goals to key the come-from-behind victory. Richardson has three goals in his last four home games, including the team’s only tally in the last meeting with the Ducks.
The Canucks trail Dallas by six points with Phoenix and Nashville also in front of them in the race for the final wild-card spot.
”What do we have to lose, right?," Richardson said. "(Coach John Tortorella) just told us to have fun and go play and what the hell?”
Vancouver has captain Henrik Sedin back after he missed four games due to a leg injury. That could be significant since he has 16 assists over his last 12 home games against the Ducks.