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NHL-leading Chicago Blackhawks to see their shadow — the Ducks

Ducks go into game five points behind team that set record for best start. 'If we weren't having the year we're having, there'd be a lot of focus and attention on them,' Chicago's Patrick Kane says.

March 19, 2013|By Lance Pugmire, Los Angeles Times

The talk of the NHL is coming to town, the Chicago Blackhawks.

As far as the Ducks are concerned, keep talking.

"All the focus has been on Chicago — Chicago, Chicago, Chicago — that's great," Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne said. "That's how we look at this, that nobody's looking at us. That's a good thing. We don't want to feel that kind of stuff. We just want to keep pushing. That's all that matters."

Despite setting the record for the best start in an NHL season (21-0-3), the Blackhawks don't have to look very far over their shoulders. With a game in hand, the Ducks go into Wednesday's matchup at the Honda Center five points behind the Western Conference leaders, who also own the league's best record.

In fact, the Blackhawks (24-2-3; 51 points) and Ducks (21-3-4) matchup features the first time clubs with points percentages more than .800 have met after 25 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Blackhawks have a .879 points percentage; the Ducks .821.

"It will be a very important two points," Chicago Coach Joel Quenneville said. "They have a lot of things going right for them. They're big and they protect the house well and offensively they've got a lot of different guys who can contribute."

"We've only seen them one time all year," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews told the Chicago Tribune. "We've played really good games coming into this next one so we'll make sure we rest up and get ready for the next one because it's going to be a big one. Those will be two big points that we're not going to want to give up."

The Ducks won the previous encounter in Chicago on Feb. 12 — 3-2 on a shootout — but this time they will be without suspended Corey Perry. The right wing will sit out the last game of his four-game suspension for a hit to the head of Minnesota's Jason Zucker.

Perry, 27, will be on the ice for Friday's home game against Detroit for the first time since signing an eight-year, $69-million contract extension that includes a no-movement clause (he can't be traded, waived or assigned to minors without his consent).

But first things first. The Ducks play host to Chicago having won a franchise-record 12 consecutive home games and have never had a better record through 28 games. Their 12-1-0 home record is also a franchise best to start a season. The Ducks are 8-0-3 in their last 11 games, and after Chicago they play eight of their next 12 at home.

"As well as we've been playing this year, they've been right there kind of hiding in the shadows having a great season too," said Patrick Kane, Chicago's top scorer (16 goals, 37 points). "If we weren't having the year we're having, there'd be a lot of focus and attention on them.

"They're a big, physical team and it will be a good test for us. A team like that could be a team that maybe you face later on in the season and it would be nice to get a little confidence against them now."

Chicago ranks No. 2 in goals per game (3.31) and goals against (2.03). The Pacific Division leading Ducks are fourth in both categories (3.21; 2.36). The Ducks know they are facing a Chicago team that probably will stand as the major obstacle between them and the NHL's Holy Grail.

"We'll be ready, batten down the hatches," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "They scored five more goals [Monday] after eight on Saturday. They're running on all cylinders."

"In order to be the best, you've got to beat the best," the Ducks' Kyle Palmieri said. "They're the best team in the NHL right now, but going forward, if we want to make a statement and show people we're for real, you've got to beat that team."


When: 7.

Where: Honda Center.

On the air: TV: FS West. Radio: 830.

Record vs. Blackhawks: 1-0-0.

Etc. The game is sold out except for standing room tickets, although some tickets might be made available after 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Twitter: @latimespugmire

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