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Ducks, building ‘chemistry,’ take on Predators

Dec 28, 2022; Anaheim, California, USA; Anaheim Ducks forward Adam Henrique (14) moves in for a shot against the Vegas Golden Knights during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It hasn’t been an easy season for the Anaheim Ducks, languishing among the bottom three teams in the NHL.

But there have been some positives of late, which the team will look to build on when they host the Nashville Predators on Friday.

The Ducks enter the contest with a 3-2-1 record in their past six games and are coming off a 3-2 shootout victory against the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday.

“Our chemistry has been building all year,” Ducks forward Adam Henrique said.

Anaheim is near or at the bottom of the NHL in most statistical categories, including goals scored. They’ve managed just 83 for an average of 2.31 per game. At the other end, they’ve allowed a league-high 146 goals, an average of 4.06 per game.

If there’s been a bright spot of late, the Ducks can look to their penalty kill, which has killed off nine straight opposing power plays over their past two games and is 28 for 33 over the past seven games.

While it’s been a solid stretch on the penalty kill of late, penalty trouble has been an issue. Anaheim has been shorthanded 136 times, one of the highest totals in the NHL.

“We’re going to keep harping on it – we have got to be more disciplined with our sticks,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “Get away from these tripping and slashing, and penalties like that. … The only time you want to take a penalty is to save a goal.”

Troy Terry leads the team offensively across the board with 12 goals, 19 assists and 31 points through 36 games. After reaching career highs a season ago with 37 goals, 30 assists and 67 points, the forward is on pace for personal bests in assists and points.

The Predators will play in Anaheim on Friday in the first game of a brief two-game trip, which will conclude Saturday in Las Vegas.

Nashville has lost two in a row (0-1-1) and has just two wins in its past 10 games (2-5-3).

“I think the urgency is always there,” coach John Hynes said after their latest loss, a 3-2 defeat to Dallas on Tuesday. “The season continues to get shorter and shorter. So, finding ways to rebound, play well and get to your game, and find more consistency in our game is what’s going to be the difference (in making the playoffs).”

Like their opponent Friday, offense has been hard to come by for the Predators, who are averaging only 2.45 goals per game. A woeful power play hasn’t helped, clicking at a mere 15.8 percent.

“I think we’ve been talking a lot about the offense and then just playing fast,” Predators captain Roman Josi said after the game against the Stars. “I feel like the last couple of games we’ve done that. We’re getting in our zone more, we’re creating some more chances. It’s a tough loss (against Dallas), but I think we’ve got to just keep building our game and move on.”

–Field Level Media