Ducklings abound at WJCs.

Emerson Etem and Kyle Palmieri will team up for the first time since Ducks training camp, as both made the final roster for Team USA at the World Junior championships.

 

Etem and Palmieri both had strong showings in two pre-tournament exhibitions for the U.S. –an overtime loss to Rensselaer on Sunday and a shootout loss to the Czech Republic on Tuesday. Palmieri was a lock to make the team after he scored both regulation goals Tuesday night. Etem scored a goal Sunday and had several more scoring chances against the Czechs, though he couldn’t convert.

 

Two more Ducks prospects are slated to compete in the WJCs.

 

Defenseman Sami Vatanen, a fourth-round draft pick in 2009, will captain Team Finland. He’ll probably play a lot, too. The 19-year-old leads the SM-Liiga – the top Finnish league – in plus-minus rating. Vatanen also has 21 points in 32 games, averaging over 22 minutes a game for the league-leading team, JYP Jyvskyl.

 

Igor Bobkov, a third-round pick in 2009, could be the top goalie for Team Russia. The 6-foot-6 19-year-old has struggled in his first season in North America. He’s been relegated to backup duties with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, going 1-4 with a 4.63 goals-against average and .857 save percentage.

 

Check out tomorrow’s editions for a full feature on Etem, a native of Long Beach.

Green sent back to Syracuse.

Josh Green’s latest NHL stint lasted only one game.

 

The Ducks returned the 33-year-old forward to the Syracuse Crunch one day after he logged 9:09 in a 5-2 loss at Buffalo. Green moved up and down the lineup, playing mostly left wing and a little center, and finished a minus-1 without recording a point.

 

Green was filling in while Nick Bonino rested a sore foot. The rookie center might be healed in time to play Sunday in Los Angeles but if not, Green could find himself in a Ducks uniform again.

Buffalo 5, Ducks 2.

It’s not often that an NHL coach, in his post-game press conference, starts off by remarking how tired his opponent looked. But Lindy Ruff couldn’t resist.

“I think we took advantage of a team that, you know, their energy level was low,” the Sabres’ coach said after a fairly easy win over the Ducks on Tuesday. “If you can take advantage of a team, get ‘em down early, it makes it even tougher on ‘em.”

Getting the Ducks down early wasn’t a problem for Buffalo, just like it wasn’t a problem for the Hurricanes on Saturday, or the Islanders last Thursday. Due mainly to a porous Ducks defense, the Sabres struck three times against Curtis McElhinney in the first period, and again at 4:40 of the second, to take a 4-0 lead.

Jason Blake’s vacation started even earlier than his teammates’. He was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for boarding Patrick Kaleta at 13:36 of the first period, skating quite some distance to knock Kaleta out of the game with the hit.

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Bonino (foot) out, Green up from Syracuse.

The Ducks announced that rookie center Nick Bonino will miss tonight’s game in Buffalo with a “minor foot injury,” and Josh Green was recalled from AHL affiliate Syracuse.

Green gets the nod over Dan Sexton (who is coming off a hot weekend) and Matt Beleskey (who has six goals and 12 points in 14 AHL games), probably because he can play the pivot. So can Todd Marchant, who has been mostly used as a left wing lately, but Green also displayed pretty good chemistry with Marchant and George Parros during a November stint on the fourth line. The 33-year-old has no points in 11 games with the Ducks this season. He had five goals and 13 points in 19 games for Syracuse.

The Ducks play the Sabres at 4 p.m., then get a five-day layoff before Sunday’s game in Los Angeles, which ideally would give Bonino enough time to heal before playing the Kings.

Ducks 3, Boston 0.

Goalies are often the biggest proponents of false modesty after a shutout, crediting everyone but themselves for what is often a stellar individual performance.

Not to imply that Jonas Hiller wasn’t stellar in stopping all 45 shots he faced Monday night in Boston – but the Ducks would be rightly credited with one of their more balanced wins of the season.

They exorcised some first-period demons by taking a 1-0 lead on Brandon McMillan’s goal at 5:57 and not letting go. They took that early confidence boost for a spin on both ends of the ice, allowing Hiller to weather (and more importantly, see) the Bruins’ 45 shots, giving Anaheim two wins in four games of its five-game East Coast trip.

Andreas Lilja (paired with Cam Fowler) and Andy Sutton (paired with Luca Sbisa) both re-entered the lineup on defense and “both of those players played one of their best games of the year for us,” in the words of Randy Carlyle.

McMillan played probably his best game too, scoring when the rebound of Sbisa’s shot fell to his feet in front of Tim Thomas (22 saves), then leading the charge to the net that resulted in Corey Perry’s short-handed goal at 15:05 of the second period.

McMillan also was part of the rush that led to Lubomir Visnovsky’s second-period tally, giving the rookie a plus-3 rating and his first multiple-point game in the NHL.

“The kid has worked hard and he got an opportunity,” Carlyle said. ”I moved him out with [Saku] Koivu and [Teemu] Selanne to try and balance out three lines. Because, when you look at their three lines that they have, they got [Marc] Savard centering one line, they got [David] Krejci and then you got [Patrice] Bergeron. Those are three pretty good centers so offensively they can create a lot, so we had to try and match that up so we weren’t overwhelmed by any one line.”

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Sexton, Levasseur wrap up big weekend for Syracuse.

Dan Sexton’s three-point game Sunday wrapped up a big weekend for the erstwhile Ducks right wing in the American Hockey League.

Sexton scored once at even strength and once short-handed – who knew he could kill penalties? – and added an assist in the Syracuse Crunch’s 5-0 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack Connecticut Whale. Sexton also had a goal in a 4-1 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday, giving him three goals and an assist in two games since his latest AHL demotion.

Defenseman Brett Festerling (two goals, plus-4 rating), left wing Matt Beleskey (goal, assist) and defenseman Mat Clark (goal, assist) also had strong games for the Crunch on Sunday.

Although playing back-to-back games is common for AHL goalies, Jean-Phillippe Levasseur’s weekend bears mentioning. His 32-save shutout Sunday came less than 24 hours after a 42-save effort against the Penguins. The 23-year-old lowered his goals-against average to 2.81 and boosted his save percentage to .918.

With Timo Pielmeier struggling (6-10-1, 3.61, .898), Levasseur looks like the Ducks’ number three goalie by default.

Carolina 4, Ducks 2.

Despite the return of Teemu Selanne, the Ducks couldn’t overcome a natural hat trick by Eric Staal in the game’s first 22 minutes en route to their second straight loss.

Ryan Getzlaf scored both goals for the Ducks, the latter coming during a 6-on-3 shift with 1:48 left in the third period. Saku Koivu nearly knotted the game at 3 less than a minute later, but Cam Ward made the biggest of his 43 saves when he miraculously gloved down Koivu’s 9-foot shot to preserve the Hurricanes’ one-goal lead.

Joe Corvo provided the final score by scoring into an empty net with six seconds left.

Staal scored twice on the power play, at 7:27 and 19:33, as Carolina scored on its first two power plays of the game. He completed the hat trick with an even-strength goal after some good passing in traffic at 1:41 of the second period.

While hats littered the ice, Randy Carlyle shuffled his forward lines and saw the Ducks respond with several scoring chances against Ward. Their 45 shots on goal were their second-most of the season and marked their highest total since Nov. 19 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Selanne, playing his first game back from a groin injury, led the way with eight shots on goal in 20 minutes of ice time. He switched places with Bobby Ryan, skating with Getzlaf and Corey Perry for the final two periods. Bobby Ryan finished the game on a line with Koivu and Joffrey Lupul; Todd Marchant skated with Nick Bonino and Brandon McMillan; Jason Blake skated with Kyle Chipchura and George Parros.

Paul Mara re-entered the Ducks’ lineup, and Andreas Lilja and Andy Sutton were both healthy scratches. Mara skated on a third pairing with Luca Sbisa.

New York Islanders 3, Ducks 2. Updated with postgame reaction.

A one-minute, 39-second span of the first period gave the Islanders all their goals, knocked Curtis McElhinney out of the game, and ended the Ducks’ three-game winning streak all in one fell swoop.

The Islanders ended a six-game losing streak and won just their second game since Oct. 23, a span during which they are now 2-17-3. They did it on first-period goals by P.A. Parenteau (15:06), Blake Comeau (15:34) and Matt Moulson (16:45), the last of which spelled the end of Curtis McElhinney’s night.

“Being down 3-0 after 10, 15 minutes, it’s a tough hole to climb out of – doesn’t matter who you play,” Ducks winger Corey Perry said. “Those are things that we can’t let happen. Last night was a big, emotional win for us, playing Washington. We came in here and we didn’t play hockey until 15 minutes (in).”
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Ducks 2, Washington 1, OT.

The Ducks weathered a slow start in the nation’s capital en route to their third straight win, getting a goal from captain Ryan Getzlaf with 56.6 seconds left in overtime.

Joffrey Lupul scored in the second period for the Ducks (17-3-4) and Brooks Laich scored in the first period for Washington (18-11-4), which has lost seven in a row.

After outshooting the Ducks 26-14 through two periods, the Capitals seemed out of gas in the third. Anaheim controlled the play, leading 7-5 in shots on goal, but couldn’t score on Semyon Varlamov, who finished with 22 saves.

In overtime, Jonas Hiller was only called upon to make one of his 31 saves. The Ducks looked like they were on the way to their third shootout in their last four games until Getzlaf carried the puck up the left wing, put on the brakes near the goal line, spun back around and used Scott Hannan as a screen for his game-winning wrist shot from 11 feet out.

Teemu Selanne made the trip but decided to rest his sore groin. Lupul took his spot on the second line, but got his goal on the first power play, flinging a puck that deflected to him underneath Varlamov at the 12:47 mark. It was Lupul’s second goal of the season in his sixth game back.

Saku Koivu centered the Ducks’ second line and played little more than 20 minutes after missing the last game with the flu. Selanne, center Kyle Chipchura and defenseman Paul Mara were the Ducks’ scratches.