Ducks, Hurricanes resume improbable playoff pushes
DUCKS (25-25-10) at HURRICANES (23-26-11)
TV: PRIME (HD), FS-CR (HD)
Anaheim 6-1-3; Carolina 6-2-2
Second and final meeting of the season. Corey Perry scored 2:14 into overtime on Feb. 8 as the Ducks beat the Hurricanes, 3-2, in Anaheim.
A pair of teams from opposite conferences that sit outside their respective playoff races but are furiously trying to make up ground face off in a game that should be full of energy and desperation. Anaheim has just four regulation losses since the start of the calendar year and has cut its deficit down to single digits. Carolina still resides at the bottom of the East standings, but could jump several spots with a victory Thursday.
This is the finale of an eight-game road trip that could have put the final nail in Anaheim's coffin, but instead the Ducks have remained afloat by going 4-1-2 to this point. The one regulation loss came Tuesday in Tampa Bay, where the Ducks gave up a goal to Steven Stamkos 28 seconds in and were unable to overcome 2-0 and 3-1 deficits in falling by a 3-2 final score. Saku Koivu and Bobby Ryan each accounted for a goal and an assist.
"We let two points slip away," Ryan said. "It's tough. I think we threw everything we had at them late and couldn't find a way to beat their goalie. You get behind the eight ball early and it's tough to claw back, especially this time of year."
A lower-body injury that sidelined workhorse goalie Cam Ward
opened the door for Justin Peters
to shine in Carolina's 5-0 domination of Southeast Division rival Washington on Monday night. Peters wasn't tested much, but he stopped all 17 shots he faced for his first NHL shutout. Justin Faulk
connected on the power play to start the Hurricanes' three-goal first period and Eric Staal
provided plenty of offensive support by scoring shorthanded and at even strength while adding an assist.
"Getting the shutout, I was just a beneficiary of the effort these guys put in," Peters said. "It feels great. I'm going to enjoy it right now, and we'll be back to work tomorrow."
Perry has 6 goals in as many games for the Ducks, though he's been held without one in two straight. … Staal has 6 goals and 5 assists during a six-game points streak for the Hurricanes. Jiri Tlusty
has 4 goals and 5 assists during an eight-game points streak.
Anaheim goalie Dan Ellis (groin) is on injured reserve. … Ward and forward Chad LaRose
, who also has a lower-body injury, are day-to-day for Carolina. Forward Tuomo Ruutu
(upper body), defenseman Joni Pitkanen
(concussion/knee) and goalie Brian Boucher
(lower body) are on injured reserve.
With Ellis out, Jonas Hiller has started 19 consecutive games for the Ducks, posting a 12-3-4 record. … Staal's shorthanded goal Tuesday was the 12th of his career, setting a franchise record. He had been tied with Dave Tippett.
Hall of Fame broadcaster Chuck Kaiton will call his 2,900th game for the Carolina franchise on Thursday. Kaiton, who started in the Hartford Whalers' inaugural NHL season in 1979, spoke to the Hurricanes' website about his longevity.
"When I first started, I was 26 years old. I'm now in the locker room with Gordie Howe, Dave Keon and Bobby Hull later in the year," he recalled. "The players were either all older than me or my age. That's been the biggest transition for me. Now, I'm kind of older than some of their fathers, and I never thought that was going to happen.
"But to me, the players haven't changed a bit as far as their diligence toward playing the game."