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.