Wild-Ducks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 01, 2013
As good as the Anaheim Ducks have been at home lately, the last thing the Minnesota Wild need is Kyle Palmieri to get going offensively. Palmieri will try to build off his first NHL hat trick and help the Ducks extend their longest home win streak in three years on Friday night when they host the Wild, who hope they've ended their struggles on the road. After its season-high six-game winning streak came to an end in a 5-2 loss at Los Angeles on Monday, Anaheim (14-3-1) got back on track two days later with a 5-1 victory over Nashville for its seventh straight at home. It's the Ducks' longest run there since a club-record 11-game stretch in the 2009-10 season. "We just turned the page,'' center Ryan Getzlaf said. "In this short season, if you can resist losing two in a row, it changes a lot of things.'' The Ducks have yet to lose two straight and look to carry their momentum into March after tying a franchise record for wins in a month with 11 in February. They're tied with Montreal for the second-most points in the NHL (29) behind Chicago's 37. A big reason for Anaheim's success has been its offense, which ranks among the best in the league at 3.33 goals per game. Corey Perry and Getzlaf assisted on all three of Palmieri's goals as he took the team scoring lead and ended a 10-game goal drought with the sixth natural hat trick in club history. Palmieri, who has scored six of his seven goals at home, hopes to keep it going against a Minnesota team he burned for two goals in a 3-1 home win on Feb. 1. "It's been an up-and-down season for me, but I hope that this gives me the confidence to put together a nice little hot streak,'' Palmieri said. Palmieri helped Anaheim continue its recent tear on the power play with his second such goal of the season. The Ducks have converted 8 of 14 opportunities in their last four games. That could pose a problem for whomever Minnesota decides to start in goal in the second of back-to-back games. Niklas Backstrom, who stopped 28 shots in the loss to Anaheim, had 25 saves Thursday and benefited from rare offensive outburst in a 4-3 win at Phoenix. Backup Darcy Kuemper split his first two starts and hasn't played since blocking 29 of 31 shots in a 3-2 win over Detroit on Feb. 17. While the Wild (10-7-2) have won four of five overall, they have 12 goals and are 2 for 22 on the power play over their last seven road games. Minnesota, however, will try to carry over the momentum from its first four-goal effort in more than a month. Dany Heatley had two goals and Jason Zucker scored for the second consecutive contest. "We've been emphasizing our starts and trying to make sure we have a quick start and try to play with a lead,'' Zucker said. Zach Parise leads the team with eight goals, but has only three in his last 14 contests. He had two goals and three assists in his previous five against the Ducks before failing to earn a point in the last trip to Anaheim. Minnesota is likely to face Viktor Fasth after he finished with 26 saves to earn the win in the first meeting. The rookie, who is 9-1-0 overall, is undefeated in four home starts with a 1.23 goals-against average.
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