Despite conceding four or more goals in each of their last five games, the Anaheim Ducks are on a three game winning streak after rallying for a 5-4 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Friday evening. Anaheim will be without the services of leading goal scorer Corey Perry, who was injured on a hip check by Keith Ballard and is awaiting the club's return to Orange County to reevaluate his status. Rickard Rakell has been recalled from Norfolk, and figures to draw into the lineup against a Winnipeg Jets side that the Ducks have faced only four times (going 2-2-0) since the club relocated from Atlanta for the 2011-12 season. This will be the first time the Ducks have traveled to Winnipeg without Teemu Selanne on their roster since January 14, 1996.
The career season of "Matty Nice" Matt Beleskey continues as he scored the game-winning goal in Minnesota on Friday, his third winner of the year and his sixth goal in his last nine games. Over that stretch he's scored on 30% of the shots he's taken, and for the year he's scoring on 17.6% of his shots. Only Kyle Palmieri has had a hotter stick on the squad, as Palmieri has found the twine on 18.8% of his shots since making his season debut 10 games ago. Ryan Getzlaf has been playing some of his best hockey of the season recently in putting up seven points over the course of the last four games, his best run of form since putting up 12 points during the first eight games of the season. Cam Fowler and Jakob Silfverberg have strung together some solid performances of late as well, with Fowler picking up a point in each of his last four games and Silfverberg riding a three game point streak. Silfverberg's rebound goal against the Wild was his first since November 12 against Los Angeles. With Ilya Bryzgalov on a professional tryout help can't come soon enough for Frederik Andersen, who's started the last 14 games for the Ducks. In the first eight games of the season before the streak Andersen gave up fewer than three goals in six contests, while surrendering three or more in nine of the games on this current stretch of starts. He's gone 6-3-4 over that span, with a save percentage below .900 in seven of the games, getting chased three times.
Winnipeg is riding a five game point streak, going 4-0-1 with wins at Columbus, at Buffalo, losing in OT at Boston, knocking off Edmonton in OT at home, and besting the Avalanche. Despite having one of the most entertaining home ice advantages in the league the Jets are a middling 6-5-1 at MTS Centre thus far, having gone just 1-5-1 against teams currently in playoff positioning at home. Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, and Bryan Little are tied atop the team with 19 points apiece, and Little collected the franchise's first home hat trick since the move from Atlanta against the Avalanche. Ladd has been the most consistent producer, picking up points in 14 of 27 appearances with the team, while Little leads the side with 11 goals. Dustin Byfuglien recently moved back to the blue line to add support to a unit that has leaned heavily on Toby Enstrom, Jacob Trouba, and Zach Bogosian to eat minutes. Evander Kane's "money" workout has yet to yield increased production as the 23-year old has found the back of the net in only three games this season, but he's done better than former Duck Mathieu Perreault, who went through a 12 game scoreless streak earlier this year. Ondrej Pavelec has been remarkably competent, with a save percentage of .919 and only seven of his 21 appearances with sub-.900 SV%. He's won his last two starts, but went through a through a five game winless stretch from November 11 to 23.
What Can We Learn From This Game:
The Ducks once again find themselves without Perry, after having gone 1-0-4 in their five games while he was sidelined with the mumps. All but one of those games were played at Honda Center, so we'll see how an opponent decides how they want to match up against Getzlaf without Perry by his side. If the playoffs started today the Jets would hold the second wild card slot in the West, so this serves as a bit of a "show me" game for them as well taking on a playoff-level opponent at home.
Winnipeg fans are a whole lot less nice to the Ducks now that Selanne is no longer on the squad. Beleskey uses Perry's absence to move into a tie for the team lead in goals, and the game goes to overtime because when does it not without Perry in the lineup?