Sports

Ducks practice before check-in on the road

NASHVILLE — Reward for a statement win over another first-place team?

Hop on a plane for a four-hour flight to Music City, de-board and report to the ice.

That was Wednesday for the Ducks, and for good reason.

"The first four trips we made back East, there was the same kind of travel and we just had stretches and light workouts at the team hotel," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "And lost all four games."

Those failings in Colorado, Toronto, Florida and Dallas led to this strategy, and victories over Chicago and Detroit in December followed.

That's why the Ducks (32-8-5) — in the midst of a 14-1 roll — were sweating through a workout, grouped in their likely lines for Thursday's game against Nashville (19-19-6). After grinding through blue-line to blue-line drills, they dressed for the next shift, a trip to the hotel for check-in.

"We've had success with it, so being the superstitous guy I am, we'll continue to do it," Boudreau said. "There's no grouchiness [from the players] and that comes with winning.

"It was a simple thing — 'OK, this isn't working' — we were wondering why we were coming out flat and were like, we don't know if this is the answer, or if it's mental, or just fortunate stuff. But we tried something different."

Penner back in line

Ducks forward Dustin Penner hasn't scored a point in 10 games, not dressing in three of them. He missed Tuesday's 5-2 victory over the Boston Bruins because of an arm injury but skated with the first line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on Wednesday.

Penner said Boudreau's support has been invaluable.

"Bruce is very good that way, very approachable," Penner said. "You don't have to worry about, 'Hopefully, I'm catching him on a good day.'"

"Yeah, I've been a healthy scratch, but I'm not the only one and we have a very good team."

Ducks center Mathieu Perreault scored two goals Tuesday after being a healthy scratch Sunday.

"The thing we're gearing up for here is to get everybody firing on all cylinders when it matters the most," Penner said.

In the net is ...

Boudreau declined to reveal if goalie Jonas Hiller — seeking his 13th consecutive victory — would start Thursday, but there were hints Frederik Andersen might.

"You ride him for the most part, but I'm not going to kill him," Boudreau said of Hiller. "The way we travel, there's a lot of wear and tear on the body. It's been etched in stone for a while. … We have two back-to-backs coming [starting Saturday-Sunday], so there's going to be times Freddie's going in."

The coach added that injured defenseman Bryan Allen, who has been replaced by Nolan Yonkman, could resume practicing early next week.

TONIGHT

AT NASHVILLE

When: 5 PST.

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

Etc.: Nashville, led by defenseman Shea Weber's 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists), ranks 25th in goals per game but sixth in power-play percentage.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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