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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, March 22nd (All times eastern)

Anaheim Ducks (42-26-8) at Phoenix Coyotes (36-33-6), 10 p.m.

(Sports Network) - One night after enduring a costly loss, the Anaheim Ducks will vie for a rebound when the defending Stanley Cup champions visit the fading Phoenix Coyotes tonight at Jobing.com Arena.

Anaheim put its chances of winning the Pacific Division in serious jeopardy after dropping a 2-1 decision to first-place San Jose Friday at HP Pavilion. The win gives the Sharks a comfortable seven-point advantage on the Ducks with just six games remaining for Anaheim on the regular season.

The Ducks played the contest without No. 1 goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, although backup Jonas Hiller held his own by turning aside 41-of-43 shots in an impressive showing. Hiller will likely be back between the pipes tonight with Giguere considered doubtful due to back spasms.

Anaheim will also be minus All-Star defenseman Chris Pronger once again, as the former Hart Trophy recipient serves the fourth contest of an eight-game suspension for stomping on the leg of Vancouver's Ryan Kesler in a March 12 outing.

Despite last night's setback, the Ducks are still in good position in regards to the playoffs. The team presently occupies the fourth seed in the Western Conference and holds a three-point edge on sputtering Dallas for that spot.

Anaheim has had its struggles when facing the Coyotes this season, however. Phoenix has won the last four meetings between the squads and is 6-1-0 in its last seven encounters with the Ducks. All four of those recent wins have come either in overtime or via a shootout.

The Ducks' lone victory over the Coyotes this season came in Glendale on November 3, a 5-2 triumph. Anaheim also lost in a shootout in its other two visits to Arizona during the 2007-08 campaign.

Phoenix is currently mired in a four-game losing streak and started off a three-game home stretch with a shootout defeat to Los Angeles on Thursday. The Kings' Patrick O'Sullivan scored in the fourth round of the deciding phase to lift his club to a wild 6-5 victory.

The Coyotes' Keith Ballard sent the game into overtime by scoring on the power play with just 25 seconds remaining in the third period. His one-timer was set up by Shane Doan, who finished with a goal and two assists for Phoenix.

Phoenix, which will entertain San Jose on Tuesday in the finale of this homestand, is 16-18-4 as the host this season but has lost five of its last seven at Jobing.com Arena.

03/22 11:25:56 ET


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