Corey Perry has made himself a target of opponents by scoring 27 goals with 28 assists through 52 games, and defensemen and those who specialize in forechecking have predictably taken to taking aim at the Ducks' star forward.
Perry was hit hard three times by Vancouver on Jan. 15, answering with two goals and two assists, and he’s been pushed by Chicago, St. Louis and Winnipeg, who’ve kept him out of the net in the last three games.
Thursday night, the NHL’s best defensive team arrives at Honda Center, so there’s little intrigue on who the Kings (29-16-6) will most watch in their quest to hand the Ducks (37-10-5) a second straight home loss after an unbeaten-in-regulation 20-0-2 streak at Honda Center was snapped Tuesday by Winnipeg.
“He picks himself up, goes to the hard places, battles and scores. That’s why he’s so good,” Ducks forward Tim Jackman said of Perry. “Guys can try to poke the bear, but they wake him up and he can come back and score two goals and the game’s over.”
Perry said he doesn’t feel increased pressure of late.
“It’s hockey, if you’re going to the dirty areas, you’re going to get roughed up,” he said. “Those are the things you have to pay. I don’t think it’s anything different than the normal. You’ve got to battle for your ice, and it’s a man’s game out there.
“It’s an exciting week for us and them. Two big games that start tonight, and if we can get those two points tonight and look forward to Saturday, it’s going to be a special day.”
Perry said not to expect an overhauled game plan from the Dec. 3, nine-round shootout loss
to the Kings at Honda Center.
“We’re at home, we’ve had success here,” Perry said. “Even though the streak’s over … look at what we did [Tuesday] with 40-plus shots, more scoring chances. You’ve got to bear down on your chances, not try to be too cute or fine.”
Jackman and fellow fourth-line big man Patrick Maroon said they watch closely if teams begin to take increased liberties against Perry or fellow first-line star Ryan Getzlaf.
“They take care of themselves, but we don’t want guys taking cheap shots at our best players," Jackman said. "We’re a team, we stick up for each other.”
Maroon played alongside Perry briefly Tuesday.
“Corey brings that intensity, that sneaky … guys are going to come after him because he finds a way to put the puck in the back of the net,” Maroon said. “They’re going to try to get under his skin, keep him away from the net. But he always finds a way to get back there. He’s not afraid of anything. That’s what’s so good about him.”
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