Series (Game 4 of 4)

Nashville leads 3-1

Game 1: Saturday, October 9th
Game 2: Sunday, November 7th
Game 3: Wednesday, January 5th
Game 4: Thursday, March 24th

Ducks 4

(41-28-5, 87 pts)

Predators 5

(40-25-10, 90 pts)

8:00 PM ET, March 24, 2011

Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee

1 2 3 T
ANA 1 0 34
NSH 3 1 15

S. Kostitsyn (Predators - LW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

N. Spaling (Predators - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

C. Perry (Ducks - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 1

Ducks-Predators Preview


After initially struggling with top goaltender Jonas Hiller sidelined, the Anaheim Ducks quickly found their groove.

The Ducks will try to keep rolling with Hiller expected to start for the first time in more than a month Thursday night at the surging Nashville Predators in a key matchup for the Western Conference playoff race.

Named to his first All-Star team after starting 25-16-3 with a 2.50 goals-against average, Hiller began experiencing vertigo symptoms not long after the league's annual showcase.

He was pulled from his first start following the break but rebounded to shut out Edmonton on Feb. 13. He hasn't played since, as the dizziness and fatigue returned, but has felt better in recent practices and was activated off injured reserve prior to Wednesday night's game at Dallas.

"I'm not getting that tired anymore, and it seems to be more natural to follow the puck," Hiller told the Ducks' official website Tuesday. "I've felt pretty good the last couple of practices and I'm definitely excited that it keeps going forward."

The Ducks were 0-4-1 in the first five games without Hiller, but have gone 9-2-0 since and have won four straight behind strong efforts from their other goalies. Dan Ellis is 6-2-1 with a 2.70 GAA since being acquired from Tampa Bay, and Ray Emery is 2-0-0 with an 0.87 GAA since being called up from the minors.

Hiller was Emery's backup for Wednesday's 4-3 overtime victory over the Stars to open a three-game road trip. Teemu Selanne scored the tying goal with seven seconds left in regulation and Cam Fowler found the net 1:42 into the extra session.

"We've had a lot of dramatic situations for our hockey club and (Wednesday) was another example of guys reaching back," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "This group doesn't think that we're ever out of a hockey game and they've shown a tremendous amount of resiliency to rally around one another."

The victory moved the Ducks (41-27-5) one point ahead of the Stars for eighth in the Western Conference. Anaheim is also one point behind Chicago, Los Angeles and Nashville (39-25-10) in the tightly-packed West.

Like the Ducks, the Predators have gotten hot at the right time, going 8-2-2 in their last 12 games. A 3-1 win over Edmonton on Tuesday was their fourth in a row, their longest streak since a season-high six-game run that spanned the New Year.

David Legwand had a goal and an assist against the Oilers, giving him six points during the current win streak and 15 in his last 13 games.

"David has recognized two things," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "Early in the season, he sometimes looks at the 82 games and gets off to a little bit of a slow start. As he hits his stride and games get more and more important, he seems to elevate his level."

Trotz's club has taken two of three meetings with Anaheim this season, including a 4-1 home win Oct. 9. With another victory Thursday, the Predators can win the season series with the Ducks for the first time since 2003-04.

Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne has an 0.74 GAA in three consecutive wins over Anaheim. Hiller is 1-2-0 with a 3.39 GAA versus the Predators this season.

Ducks veteran center Saku Koivu has scored four goals this season against Nashville, but has one in his last 11 games overall.