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Ducks face big test against red-hot Blackhawks

The Ducks (8-2-1) continue their trip against Chicago (10-0-2), the only team remaining in the league without a regulation loss.

February 11, 2013|By Lance Pugmire
  • Teemu Selanne and the Ducks face a big challenge as they take on the Chicago Blackhawks, the only team in the NHL without a regulation loss.
Teemu Selanne and the Ducks face a big challenge as they take on the Chicago… (Dilip Vishwanat / Getty…)

The Ducks have already stood up to the bully of the Pacific Division, beating and overtaking San Jose.

Tuesday, they meet the beast of the Western Conference when their six-game trip continues at Chicago's United Center against the unbeaten-in-regulation Blackhawks (10-0-2).

"They're playing above everyone else in the NHL right now," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said in a telephone interview Monday. "Their puck possession is very impressive. Their best players are playing at their best. They're running on all cylinders."

The Blackhawks also get the added edge of returning home for the first time since Jan. 27 following their own six-game trip.

Blackhawks right winger Patrick Kane has nine goals and 10 assists to pace the league's second-best offensive team (3.4 goals per game), and goaltender Corey Crawford is giving up only 1.62 goals a game behind the league's best penalty-killing group (92.9%).

"We all know we've got a game on our hands. And that we have to play almost a perfect, mistake-free hockey game to win," Boudreau said.

The Ducks (8-2-1) are coming off a compelling extended shootout victory at St. Louis, won when Nick Bonino converted his first shootout attempt.

Yet, Boudreau has continued to nag on his team's irritating traits, like falling behind or allowing too much pressure on rookie goaltender Viktor Fasth, who's 5-0 and is expected to start Tuesday with Jonas Hiller still sidelined by a lower-body injury.

"It's like seeing your son getting perfect grades at school, but you're not happy because he's not behaving well," Boudreau said. "We've won, but I know we can play better more consistently.

"Still I'm happy we're winning, coming back, always making it close. Those are great traits. You just can't be getting behind too often."

Boudreau said defenseman Cam Fowler, who has a head injury, will remain sidelined through the trip that ends Saturday. He said Hiller could return to skate Tuesday.

The Ducks on Monday called up defenseman Nate Guenin from minor league Norfolk (Va.).

Tonight

AT CHICAGO

When: 5:30 PST.

Where: United Center.

On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 830.

Record vs. Blackhawks (2011-12): 1-2-1.

Update: The Blackhawks had two shootout losses on their six-game trip but have scored 14 goals in their last three games.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimespugmire

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