Avalanche-Ducks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 22, 2012
The Anaheim Ducks' recent hot streak may seem surprising given their current place in the standings. To them, it's exactly how well they should have been playing all along. Anaheim seeks a fifth straight victory when it hosts the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night. The Ducks entered this season with high expectations behind reigning MVP Corey Perry, but their rough start led to the firing of former coach Randy Carlyle on Nov. 30. Trade rumors swirled as they continued their subpar play under new coach Bruce Boudreau, though any potential moves may want to be reconsidered given Anaheim's 7-0-1 run since Jan. 6. The Ducks (17-22-7) have won four straight since losing to Calgary 1-0 in overtime Jan. 12, beating red-hot Ottawa 2-1 on Saturday. They still have a long way to go to climb back into the playoff race - they're 13th in the Western Conference - but feel they're ready to make a run down the stretch. "You go through peaks and valleys throughout the season,'' said winger Jason Blake, who has four goals and two assists during the four-game streak. "It wasn't the start that we were looking for. We dug ourselves a pretty big hole. But when you win a couple of games, you start feeling good about yourself and you get some confidence. "The whole team is buying into what we're trying to do in here, and it seems to be working.'' Corey Perry scored his team-leading 22nd goal and Jonas Hiller made 31 saves in the win over the Senators. "We knew that if we played our game, we had a chance,'' said Hiller, who has won his last four starts with a 1.25 goals-against average. "We played a really solid game. Everybody was sacrificing and playing for the team, and that's the way you win. If we keep playing that way, we can pretty much beat anybody.'' Anaheim hopes that continues against Colorado, which sits in eighth place in the West - 13 points ahead of the Ducks. The Avalanche (26-21-2) are on a roll of their own, winning three of their last four after beating Los Angeles 3-1 on Saturday. They've scored seven goals in their last two games after scoring six in their previous five. Peter Mueller scored the game-winner late in the second period, and rookie Gabriel Landeskog netted an insurance power-play goal with less than two minutes remaining in the third. Former Duck Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who spent 8 1/2 seasons in Anaheim from 2000-10 and won a Stanley Cup in 2007, made 25 saves to win his third straight start. "All year we've been stressing (defense), and we're getting better as a team," defenseman Shane O'Brien said. "Giggy's been great in net for us and we're playing hard in front of him. There's no secret to winning in this league. You've got to play good solid defense, and we're doing that right now." It's unclear if he'll start Sunday, though Giguere has beaten Anaheim in his only two starts since being traded to Toronto two years ago, including an 18-save, 4-2 victory in the teams' first meeting Dec. 31. That contest snapped the Ducks' six-game winning streak over the Avalanche, though Anaheim is 15-3-0 in the series since February 2007. Teemu Selanne has 10 goals and nine assists in his last 12 games against Colorado.
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