Canucks-Ducks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 29, 2011
The Vancouver Canucks are quickly re-establishing themselves as one of the top teams in the NHL. Vancouver seeks its league high-tying 50th point when it visits the last-place Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night. The Canucks (23-12-2) have come on after a slow start to overtake slumping Minnesota atop the Northwest Division, going 14-3-1 since Nov. 20. Andrew Ebbett redirected Kevin Bieksa's shot into the net in overtime to give Vancouver a 3-2 win over San Jose on Wednesday. Ebbett was again the hero after recording his first career two-goal game in Monday's 5-3 victory over Edmonton. "I wasn't sure I would get a shift in overtime, but I did and I wanted to make it count,'' Ebbett said. "I knew I was one-on-one so I tried to get my body positioned, and showed Kevin my stick. He shot it right off my stick.'' Vancouver led 2-0 after goals from Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler, but let the lead get away. Roberto Luongo made 33 saves to improve to 9-1-1 with a 1.70 goals-against average since Dec. 4. "In this rink, the momentum can change quickly,'' Ebbett said. "The last 10 minutes all the credit goes to Luongo and the penalty kill.'' Luongo didn't fare as well his last time out against the Ducks, as he gave up four second-period goals and was pulled after 40 minutes during a 4-3 loss Nov. 11 in Anaheim. That defeat dropped him to 2-4-2 with a 4.65 GAA in his last eight starts versus the Ducks, leaving it easy to see why backup Cory Schneider is expected to start Thursday. Schneider is 1-1-0 with a 2.68 GAA in four appearances - two starts - against Anaheim, which is 4-1-1 in its last six home meetings with Vancouver. The Ducks are 7-2-2 in the last 11 matchups overall versus the Canucks, though they currently sit at the bottom of the Pacific Division. Anaheim (10-19-6) has been one of the league's biggest disappointments this season and is coming off a 1-3-1 road trip, though it ended with a 3-2 win over San Jose on Monday. Andrew Cogliano scored the game-winner for the Ducks, who are beginning a six-game homestand. "It just gets the ball rolling for the second half of the year," Cogliano said. "We're looking to win games and put a bunch together hopefully, and now we play another good team in Vancouver." Anaheim is 3-6-2 since coach Bruce Boudreau replaced the fired Randy Carlyle on Dec. 2. While the Ducks are still adjusting to his new system, Cogliano said they are coming together under their new coach. "He's asked us to play a certain way and I think we've done that," Cogliano said. "Our goal is to play a solid game, and I feel like the harder we work we'll create chances and score goals." Jonas Hiller made 36 saves to win Monday for the first time in four starts. He improved to 6-1-1 with a 3.00 GAA in his last eight appearances - seven starts - against the Canucks after making 38 saves in the first meeting. It's unclear if Hiller will get the start this time but it likely won't matter to Daniel Sedin, who has eight goals and 12 assists during an 11-game point streak against Anaheim. The Ducks haven't won consecutive games since winning four straight Oct. 8-17.
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