Maple Leafs-Ducks Preview
After going without a regulation loss for their first 22 home games, the Anaheim Ducks have been quite beatable at the Honda Center.
Trying to avoid losing three straight there for the second time in six weeks, the Ducks cap a five-game homestand Monday night seeking a better defensive effort against Phil Kessel than they showed in the last meeting with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Anaheim (43-14-7) lost 3-2 to Pittsburgh in a shootout Friday night, dropping to 4-5-2 at home since Jan. 21 after a 20-0-2 start.
The Ducks lost their first three home games in February before returning from the Olympic break with wins over St. Louis and Carolina to begin this homestand, but they’ve since lost six-round shootouts to two of the Eastern Conference’s top teams. However, after falling 4-3 to Montreal on Wednesday, the disappointment from Friday left them with a more favorable assessment of their game.
"Our last two games are very different," defenseman Ben Lovejoy told the team’s official website. "The Montreal game, we probably didn’t deserve. They took it to us and we weren’t ready right away. Tonight, both teams were ready from the get-go, and they were able to come out with a win."
Corey Perry scored twice for the second time in three games and converted his shootout attempt, but Anaheim failed to win in regulation for the first time in his seven two-goal efforts. Ryan Getzlaf assisted on both goals, and it was also the first time the Ducks didn’t win in his 17 multipoint efforts.
Jonas Hiller faced 17 shots in just under 65 minutes of ice time against the East’s most potent attack, matching the lowest shot total he’s faced in a complete game this season.
"Hillsy played a great game," forward Kyle Palmieri said. "When he was tested, he came up big for us. Perry had two nice goals, but it just wasn’t enough. It’s tough not to get that extra point, but we held a pretty good offense to not too many shots. So it was a good effort on our part."
After dealing with NHL points leader Sidney Crosby, the Ducks shift their attention to Kessel – tied with Getzlaf for second with 70 points.
Kessel notched his first of two hat tricks this season in a 4-2 home victory over Anaheim on Oct. 22, Toronto’s fourth straight win in the series. Kessel’s six multigoal efforts have resulted in six Maple Leafs’ victories this season, and they’ve all come by at least two goals. He has six points in his last three games against Anaheim.
As Anaheim battles for the West lead, Toronto (34-23-8) is fourth in the East after consecutive victories over playoff contenders. However, the Maple Leafs had two-goal leads in each and let both Philadelphia and the New York Rangers earn a point by stretching the games to overtime.
Toronto now kicks off a five-game road trip after Saturday’s 4-3 home win over the Flyers completed a 2-1-0 homestand.
"We don’t want to make a habit of blowing third-period leads," Joffrey Lupul said after scoring the winner. "Things are going to happen, other teams are going to make plays, and we stuck with it."
Hiller is 0-4-0 with a career 4.84 goals-against average against Toronto.