Ducks-Lightning Preview

The Anaheim Ducks have ground to make up in the Western

Conference playoff race, but they’re heading in the right

direction.

So are the Tampa Bay Lightning in the East, although it appears

they will be without their captain for a while.

Anaheim goes for its first 10-game point streak since 2007 on

Tuesday night against the host Lightning, who are aiming for a

third straight victory but have lost Vincent Lecavalier for an

indefinite period.

Since falling to 10-22-6 on Jan. 4, Anaheim (25-24-10) has

earned points in 19 of 21 games to move within five points of the

eighth seed in the West.

“It’s nice to get to the 60-point plateau because then you can

at least see the guys in the distance,” coach Bruce Boudreau said

after the Ducks improved to 4-0-2 on their season-high eight-game

trip with a 2-0 victory over Florida on Sunday. “We always believed

that we’re there. We don’t really care what anybody else thinks

about it. As long as we believe we’re there, we’re OK.”

Corey Perry has team highs of seven goals and nine points during

Anaheim’s 6-0-3 run, while Teemu Selanne has scored four times with

two assists since the club’s last regulation loss Feb. 1.

Selanne will try to extend his goal streak versus Tampa Bay to

four games after netting his 20th of the season Sunday, surpass

Brendan Shanahan for 12th in league history with 657. The

41-year-old also became the oldest player to score 20 since

Boston’s Johnny Bucyk did it in 1976-77.

Anaheim has made a dramatic turnaround on the road, going 8-1-3

since losing a team-record 13 straight away from home. It won 2-1

in a shootout in its last visit to Tampa on Jan. 29, 2010.

The Lightning (26-26-6) are looking to continue building

momentum as they close a four-game homestand, but the team

announced Tuesday that Lecavalier will be sidelined indefinitely

because of an upper-body injury. Lecavalier, who was hurt Saturday

against Washington, has 21 goals and 25 assists in 58 games.

Tampa Bay, 9-3-2 since a season-high seven-game skid last month,

will try to keep rolling without the star center and extend their

win streak in this series to four.

“We talk about having a rock-climber’s mentality, so that’s what

we’re doing,” coach Guy Boucher told the Lightning’s official

website following Monday’s practice. “We’re focused on the rocks in

front of us and we’re plugging at them.”

Lecavalier’s absence will increase the pressure on top center

Steven Stamkos, who scored his league-best 40th goal Saturday. He

is the first player in team history to reach that total in three

consecutive seasons.

“It shows consistency and desire, and he’s got that,” right

wing Martin St. Louis said of Stamkos, one point shy of 300 for his

career.

Mathieu Garon, 7-2-2 with a 2.43 goals-against average in his

last 11 outings, will get the start for Tampa Bay. He has gone

5-1-0 with a 1.63 GAA in his last six starts versus Anaheim.

Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, the NHL’s reigning first star of the

week, seems likely to be in net after making 31 saves Sunday for

his third shutout. Hiller has posted a 1.91 GAA while starting each

game of the three-game win streak over Tampa Bay.

The Ducks have won six of seven in this series.