Denfensive Problems

Defensive struggles have plagued the Minnesota Wild all season, something that's been highlighted during their current swoon.

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TheWild will again try to re-energize a lackluster offense on Sunday, when they seek to end a four-game slide in finale of a four-game road trip against the Anaheim Ducks.

Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook have made the Ducks –175 money line favorites for Friday’s game against the Rangers. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 64% of more than 175 bets for this game have been placed on the Ducks -175.

Minnesota (15-12-1) ranks among the NHL's lowest-scoring teams with 74 goals, including an NHL-worst 40 at even strength. The Wild have scored 26 times over a 4-2-0 stretch from Nov. 24-Dec. 3, but has just three during their losing streak.

The offense sputtered again in a 3-1 loss to Los Angeles on Saturday. Brent Burns' power-play goal with 1:53 to play prevented Minnesota from its second shutout loss in three contests.

"I think really we only had a couple of chances to score. That's not enough. That's not a good effort," said Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire, whose team has slipped from first to third in the competitive Northwest Division during the skid. "The guys practiced well and they had good energy - and then the game comes the next day and there's nothing. ... You just have to play better than this."

The Wild's last five-game slide was an 0-2-3 stretch from March 4-13. To avoid another one, they'll have to re-establish their success on the power play as they're just 1-for-14 in those situations over the last four contests.

Minnesota hopes to climb out of this rut against Anaheim (16-11-3). The Wild are 9-4-0 in the series since March 28, 2004, winning three of four matchups last season including both contests at the Honda Center, where the Ducks have won four in a row.

Anaheim totaled nine goals while winning its previous two games, but suffered its first shutout loss of the season, 2-0 at league-leading San Jose on Thursday.

"We've got work to do," Todd Marchant told the Ducks' official Web site. "There are areas of our game that need to be better both as a team and as individuals. We need to correct that on Sunday night."

LikeMinnesota, Anaheim has struggled with the man advantage lately. After faltering on all five chances Thursday, the Ducks are just 3-for-22 over their last seven games.

Backup Jonas Hiller made 25 saves en route to losing a third straight game after winning his previous five, meaning coach Randy Carlyle could turn to top goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

Giguere boasts a 1.91 goals-against average in winning three decisions - all at home - over his last four starts. But he was in the net for all three losses to the Wild last season, compiling a 4.39 GAA.

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim's leader with 23 assists and 35 points, has two goals and 10 points in 11 career games versusMinnesota. Teemu Selanne, who leads the Ducks with 14 goals and is tied for second with 27 points, has nine goals and 11 assists in 27 lifetime matchups against the Wild

Minnesota has conceded a league-low 62 goals.

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Posted: 12/14/08 12:20 AM ET

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