The league-leading Anaheim Ducks expect their opponents to be desperate Sunday evening.
The Carolina Hurricanes will be out to avoid their third five-game losing streak of the season when they visit the Ducks.
Anaheim (42-14-5) opened this five-game homestand after the Olympic break with Friday’s 1-0 victory over St. Louis. Jonas Hiller made 18 saves for his fifth shutout as he made Andrew Cogliano’s first-period goal stand up.
The Ducks admitted it was easy to get fired up for that matchup against another one of the Western Conference’s powerhouses. Carolina (26-25-9) presents a different challenge.
"It’s an Eastern Conference team so you don’t see them as often so there’s not that rivalry that sets in," Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler said. "We have to be ready because they’ve got good skill over there and they’re going to work hard so it’s going to be an important game for us."
One Ducks player keeping tabs on the opposition is defenseman Bryan Allen, who is in his second season with Anaheim after playing all 82 games for Carolina in 2011-12.
"They’re in play in the East, fighting for points and every game is a big one for them," Allen said. "I know they’ve started the road trip not the way they’ve wanted to and they’re going to be hungry so we’ve got to be ready to match their intensity."
The Hurricanes have lost in regulation in the first three games of this five-game trip after the Olympics, falling 3-1 at Los Angeles on Saturday. They have totaled five goals in this overall losing streak.
”We’ve played nine periods now (since the break), and I think we’re happy with seven of the nine, but we haven’t gotten any points," coach Kirk Muller said. "We’re playing hard and playing well defensively, but we’re not generating the offense we need to get ahead in these games.”
Carolina played without forward Alexander Semin, who was scratched with a lower-body injury. The Russian Olympian was hurt Thursday at Dallas, but might return Sunday.
”He’s one of our best players, so it hurts having him out,” center Riley Nash said. ”But guys have to fill (the void).”
The Hurricanes are 0 for 25 on the power play in their last eight road games after coming up empty in three chances against the Kings.
Eric Staal scored in the first two games of this trip before he was held without a goal Saturday. Staal has seven points in a five-game run versus the Ducks.
"When Eric Staal is playing at the best of his game, he is a very difficult man to stop," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "And when Jordan Staal is playing very good, it gives them two big centermen."
The last three meetings have all gone to overtime and finished with 3-2 scores, with Carolina winning in a shootout at home Nov. 15.
Viktor Fasth started in goal for Anaheim in that game, but he is hurt and Hiller figures to get the call Sunday.
Muller could turn back to Cam Ward, who started the opener of this trip Tuesday in Buffalo is his first action after being out since Dec. 31 with a lower-body injury. Anton Khudobin has started both games since.