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Ducks Gameday: Victory over Sharks could mean move into playoff position

By in Press Enterprise on February 11, 2018

By Eric Stephens

ANAHEIM – The Ducks have the opportunity to move into playoff position Sunday night when they host the San Jose Sharks at Honda Center to close out a brief two-game homestand.

Even with an inability to string together a series of victories this season, the Ducks (27-19-10) have gained points in 15 of their last 21 games and can jump over the idle Kings into third place in the Pacific Division with a victory, as long as Calgary is unable to win at the New York Islanders.

A 3-2 home win over Edmonton on Friday was their most complete performance since their victory in Boston on Jan. 30. John Gibson (19-14-5, 2.62 GAA, .922 SV%), who’s expected to start again Sunday, made 30 saves in a sharp effort after missing four games because of a lower-body injury.

Still not 100 percent after hip surgery, Ryan Kesler has delivered six goals in his 19 games since making his season debut after Christmas. Kesler is averaging under 18 minutes a night, which is down from 21:18 per game last season. His goal Friday gave the Ducks a 3-1 lead over the Oilers.

Kesler is also at a 52.7 percent win rate on faceoffs, which is also down from his usual 57-to-58-percent. The center, who has long been a shutdown ace, is still used in a defense-first role as he’s deployed in offensive zone starts just 40 percent of the time.

Corey Perry is thriving after a move back to the top line following some time in a fourth-line role. Perry has goals in three of his last four games and the contest where he didn’t score was a four-assist effort that tied his career high.

Here is the projected lineup for the Ducks:

Rickard Rakell-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry

Andrew Cogliano-Ryan Kesler-Jakob Silfverberg

Nick Ritchie-Adam Henrique-Ondrej Kase

Chris Wagner-Antoine Vermette-J.T. Brown

Hampus Lindholm-Josh Manson

Cam Fowler-Kevin […]    

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