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DUCKS FYI

Struggling Ducks try to turn it around against Chicago Blackhawks

Despite two home losses, the Ducks have the best record in the NHL. Up next are the Chicago Blackhawks, with the second-best record.

February 04, 2014|By Lance Pugmire

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If focus is the problem, maybe the defending Stanley Cup champions will get the Ducks' minds on winning a hockey game again.

"Does it help? I don't think it ever helps to play Chicago," Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf said. "That's going to be a big test for us. We're going to refocus, we'll be ready to go."

The NHL-best Ducks (40-13-5) haven't been ready to go in losing home games to Dallas and Columbus in advance of Wednesday night's game against the league's next-best Blackhawks (34-10-14). Chicago moved within three points of the Western Conference lead by beating the Kings at Staples Center on Monday.

"It's probably great that Chicago's coming here," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "If we don't play up to our best level, we're going to get our butts kicked. Maybe what we need."

The Ducks have played like a team distracted by the upcoming Olympic break, with seven Olympians ready to leave for Sochi, Russia, following Saturday night's game in Nashville, and the rest of the team headed for a mini-vacation.

"You look at it, a couple more games and we'll be out. It's almost like you want to get those games over with," Ducks center Mathieu Perreault said. "We can't do that. You've seen the results. We've got to get our minds in, and then enjoy the rest.

"When you've been winning so much, it feels easy, and now it seems like we can't find that extra motivation."

Here it is: Chicago forward Marian Hossa said after Monday's win his team is well aware it's closing in on the Ducks.

Chicago "is a team you're going to have to play in the playoffs and have to beat," Perreault said. "We want to show them we can beat them at our rink. They're very fast. We kind of stood on our heels last game. We've got to go forward with the puck, get on the forecheck."

The Ducks had won 18 of 19 games before Chicago beat Anaheim, 4-2, on Jan. 17 at United Center. The Ducks are 4-5 in their last nine games, and have lost four of five at Honda Center, after starting 20-0-2.

"If we're not on our game, we're not a great team," Ducks forward Matt Beleskey said. "If everyone is not there, we are not going to be that No. 1 team."

A victory would move the Blackhawks within one point of that top spot in the West.

"They're still at the top the league," Blackhawks wing Bryan Bickell said. "Going into the break, we wanted to be close to them. We need a great game."

DUCKS VS. BLACKHAWKS

When: 7.

On the air: TV: Fox Sports West. Radio: AM 830.

Etc.: Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane has 63 points, one behind Ryan Getzlaf. Chicago has a league-high 10 players headed to Sochi Olympics.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

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