NHL

Flames aim to dig deeper hole for slumping Ducks

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The Sports Network
3/12/2014 11:46:49 AM
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(SportsNetwork.com) - The Anaheim Ducks haven't faced much adversity this season, but the Pacific Division leaders will try to avoid losing four straight games for only the second time this season when they visit the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night.

It wasn't that long ago when the Ducks appeared poised to run away with the division title but the club has fallen on hard times of late. Anaheim has lost three straight and six of its last nine games and Bruce Boudreau's team is a pedestrian 7-7-2 over its last 16 games.

The malaise has helped San Jose force its way into the Pacific title conversation. After winning for the eighth time in 11 games on Tuesday, the Sharks are just two points in back of Anaheim for first place.

The Ducks are also two points behind St. Louis for the NHL lead.

Anaheim has managed to gain two points during its current 0-1-2 slide, but the club came up empty in Monday's 3-1 home loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak each registered a goal and two assists to lead Toronto to the victory in Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle's return to Anaheim.

Carlyle, of course, led the Ducks to their only Stanley Cup title in 2007. He served as Anaheim's head coach for six-plus seasons before getting fired on Nov. 31, 2011 and replaced by Boudreau.

Corey Perry scored the lone Ducks goal, while Frederik Andersen stopped 20 shots in the loss.

"We had our fair chances, but we just couldn't capitalize on them," said Anaheim defenseman Francois Beauchemin. "I thought we played a decent game. We didn't get the result we wanted, but we had lots of chances offensively."

The Ducks hope they can get back on track during a road-heavy portion of their schedule over the next few weeks. Anaheim, which has won three straight on the road and is 19-9-3 as the guest this season, kicks off a three-game trip tonight and will play seven of their next nine away from Orange County.

Anaheim has claimed the first two of four meetings against the Flames this season and has won four of five and 10 of the past 13 encounters in this series. Calgary, however, has beaten the Ducks in three of the last four meetings at the Saddledome.

The Flames, who are 17 points out of a playoff spot in the West, have lost two in a row. Calgary was last in action on Monday when it dropped a 3-2 decision to the visiting Los Angeles Kings.

Calgary was down 3-0 with just under 13 minutes left in regulation, but made a valiant comeback effort behind goals from Mike Cammalleri and Brian McGrattan. In the end, however, the Flames were unable to get the equalizer and lost for the third time in five games.

"It's unfortunate because I felt that defensively we did lots of good things, but we gave two goals off of tips in front and that ends up being the difference," said Calgary head coach Bob Hartley. "But once again we never quit. We pushed and we pushed and we made a decent come back."

Joni Ortio made 20 saves in the loss and he could get another start in net tonight. The 22-year-old rookie has never faced the Ducks.

Hiller expects to get the start for Anaheim. He is 5-4-1 with a 2.77 goals against average and .905 save percentage in 10 career games against the Flames.

Calgary forward Markus Granlund is questionable for Wednesday's game with an upper-body injury suffered in the loss to the Kings.

Defenseman Luca Sbisa is also questionable for Anaheim after sitting out Monday's game with a lower-body injury.

Calgary Flames (Photo: Derek Leung/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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