Ducks Swim with Sharks in Back-to-Back Games Starting Tonight

After a split of a two-game set with the Kings earlier this week, the Ducks turn their attention to another California rival starting tonight. . . Anaheim and the San Jose Sharks will do battle in back-to-back games tonight and tomorrow night at Honda Center. Its a combatant the Ducks can relate to in an unfortunate way, as both teams missed last years 24-team playoffs and both have been jockeying for the last place spot in the Honda West Division. As of this morning, the Sharks own that position with a 9-11-3 record, but theyve played four fewer games than the Ducks. They played their first 12 games of the season on the road due to COVID-19 restrictions in Santa Clara County that included a ban on contact sports. Their first home game in San Jose wasnt until February 13, and two days later they beat the Ducks 3-2 at SAP Center. Tonight is Anaheims midway point of the abbreviated 56-game season, and the Ducks enter this one with points in three of the last four 2-1-1. They were in search of their first three game-winning streak since the start of the 2019-20 season Wednesday night vs. LA. But after tying a franchise record with eight straight one-goal games — including a 6-5 overtime victory over LA on Monday night — the Ducks suffered an ignominious 5-1 defeat in the rematch. The normally stoic John Gibson showed his frustration, notably when an own goal gave the Kings the 5-1 lead in the third. Gibby had every right tonight to feel hung out, Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. When we got down 4-1, we started cheating the game, and you cant do that. You can never, ever cheat the game or your teammates. We started cheating to try to find offense. You cant do that. I really thought Gibby, we hung him out to dry, and thats unfair to a teammate. . . The Ducks skipped practice Thursday and instead had a heart-to-heart team meeting in which the focus was on doing things the hard way, according to Eakins. Our frustration is, even though we went through a real string of losses, not once in any of those games did our guys fade away, he said. In every one of those games, they were battling. Theres excuses and theres reasons, and Im certainly not using it as an excuse. . . The Ducks are still battling injuries to a number of key players. Hampus Lindholm wont be back for several weeks with a fractured wrist, while Carter Rowney lower body, Sonny Milano upper body, Josh Manson lower body and Troy Terry remain day-to-day. . . Manson and Terry are unlikely to play tonight, Eakins said, but he doesnt expect prolonged absences. I think Troy is going to be, for sure, a shorter one, Eakins said. Josh, I believe, will be shorter than we thought, too. I think youll see Troy before him. . . Tonight and tomorrow will be the fourth and fifth games between Anaheim and San Jose this season, with the Ducks earning points in two of the three prior meetings 1-1-1. Its the second time this season theyve battled in back-to-backs, as they split shootout wins Feb. 5 San Jose 5-4 win and Feb. 6 Anaheim 2-1 win.

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