PREVIEW: Ducks host Minnesota Wild
The Anaheim Ducks have already experienced one of their best starts in franchise history, followed by one of their longest losing streaks.
They’ve also played better against teams that are off to good starts this season, and have been sub-par against those that haven’t started out so well.
Anaheim will try to continue one of those trends when they host the Minnesota Wild on Friday night at Honda Center.
Minnesota (9-4-2) has won eight of its past 10 following a 3-1 victory at the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.
The Ducks (7-7-3) are 5-3-2 this season against teams that came into Thursday with a winning record, and 2-4-1 against teams that were .500 or below.
The Calgary Flames were riding a four-game winning streak when they visited Anaheim on Wednesday night and lost 3-2.
“That’s a reward, definitely, after the work we’ve put in the last couple weeks,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said.
Getzlaf scored the go-ahead goal against Calgary at 6:33 of the third period, giving him eight points (three goals, five assists) in his past six games.
“He was a difference maker, for sure,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said.
Minnesota second-line center Eric Staal returned Thursday after missing the 4-3 loss at the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday because of an illness, ending a streak of 335 straight appearances.
Nino Niederreiter ended a 27-game goalless streak with a power-play score to tie the game 1-1 late in the first period. Zach Parise assisted on Niederreiter’s goal and scored in the second period to break the tie and earn the 700th point of his NHL career.
“It’s always nice when you get to the milestones,” he told Fox Sports North.
It will be Stalock’s fourth start this season.
So far, he’s faced the top team in the Eastern Conference (a 5-4 overtime win against the Tampa Bay Lightning), the top team in the West (a 4-2 loss to the Nashville Predators) and, most recently, made 34 saves in a 4-3 win at the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 30.
Stalock’s only two appearances against the Ducks came with the San Jose Sharks during the 2013-14 season. Both came in relief of Antti Niemi.
Minnesota is 3-0-0 in the second game of back-to-backs this season.
Ryan Miller was solid in goal against the Flames, but John Gibson is expected to be back in net against Minnesota.
Gibson is 4-1-1 in his career against the Wild with a 1.57 goals-against average and .951 save percentage, his best marks against any team in the Western Conference.
Cam Fowler earned the 203rd assist of his NHL career against the Flames, moving him within one of Scott Niedermayer (204) for the all-time franchise lead in assists among defensemen.
Fowler had his first career hat trick in a 3-2 overtime victory against the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday, ending Anaheim’s seven-game losing streak — one shy of the team record.