Ducks not helping their cause with myriad penalties

Disappointed by back-to-back 4-1 losses , the Ducks will look for the reset button Friday when they welcome the Calgary Flames for the second date of a franchise-record 10-game homestand.

Calgary swept all three meetings with the Ducks last season and has won eight of the past 10 overall. The Flames will have played Thursday against the Kings, opening the possibility of a fatigued opponent.

Yet for the Ducks, much of their damage during their own two-games-in-two-nights set and the season thus far was self-inflicted. In their two most recent losses, they racked up a combined 13 minor penalties.

“I think we’re third or fourth in the league right now, at being penalized, and it has to stop,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said.

The Ducks are, in fact, first in total penalty minutes, average penalty time per game and total penalties taken this season. Despite placing in the top 10 in penalties drawn, they have the worst penalty differential in the NHL at negative-34.

Eakins and veteran forward Adam Henrique detailed how the constant deployment of penalty killers can fatigue those players and remove the rest of the roster from the flow of the game.

“The penalties just take you out of that rhythm and don’t let you get going five-on-five,” Henrique said.

Killing so many penalties can also be taxing for the goalie, which in this case was rookie Lukas Dostal, who started matches on consecutive nights for the first time in his career. He faced the same number of shots, 41, in losses to the Kings and Minnesota Wild. He posted a cumulative .915 save percentage and made 26 of 28 saves while shorthanded.

“I thought Dosty was outstanding again. It’d be nice to get some offensive-zone time and stay out of the box for him,” Ducks rookie center Mason MacTavish said.

Dostal’s emergence in the absence of backup Anthony Stolarz and All-Star starter John Gibson has seen him carry over some of the play that allowed the Czech national to excel in Finland prior to his arrival in North America. Gibson, 29, is under contract for four more seasons and denied reports last year that he requested a trade.

“I think Dostal can be a No. 1 goalie somewhere, he is very active and agile,” said Jari Kurri, a Hall of Fame winger for the Kings and Ducks who is now the GM and owner of Finnish club Jokerit Helsinki.

Outside the goal crease, Ducks forward Trevor Zegras will seek his 100th career point and appears on track to reach the milestone in the third-fewest games of any player in Anaheim history.

Calgary will bring a tiny sliver of Ducks lore and a significant figure in Southern California hockey in head coach Darryl Sutter. Sutter was an advisor to the Ducks’ coaching staff, a role he left for a second stint as the coach of his home region’s Flames. Prior to that, he guided the Kings to their only two Stanley Cups.

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His group has taken a step back from last season’s division-winning campaign but remained competitive. They were unable to re-sign leading scorer Johnny Gaudreau, who landed in Columbus, and also forced to trade Matthew Tkachuk’s unique mix of offense and agitation. They were replaced with Jonathan Huberdeau, another top scorer in the NHL last season, and Nazem Kadri, another offensive threat with sandpaper in his game.

Calgary muddled through a five-game winless stretch before a run of four matchups with California teams. They kicked that off with a pair of convincing victories over the San Jose Sharks, hoisting them back into the wild-card race.

Calgary at Ducks

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Honda Center

TV/Radio: Bally Sports SoCal/Ducks Stream

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