Ducks acquire Brad Winchester from Blues. Update.

As first reported by Bob McKenzie of TSN, the Ducks have acquired left wing Brad Winchester from the St. Louis Blues for a third-round draft pick. Multiple reports on Twitter indicate the pick is from the 2012 draft.

Update: The team has confirmed the trade.

Winchester is a rare commodity for a fourth-line winger – he has a 13-goal season under his belt (2008-09) and already has nine goals this season. He also has five assists and a minus-9 rating in 57 games this season.

Winchester ranks third on the Blues with eight major penalties and second with 86 penalty minutes.

Ducks send Lapierre to Vancouver. Update.

Maxim Lapierre has been dealt to the Vancouver Canucks for minor-league center Joel Perrault and a third-round draft pick in 2012.

Update: The Ducks have confirmed the deal and will also send AHL center MacGregor Sharp to Vancouver.

Lapierre started out as the Ducks’ third-line center after he was acquired from the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman Brett Festerling and a fifth-round draft pick in 2012. He had seen his ice time reduced in recent weeks, however, and was deemed the odd man out after the acquisition of Brad Winchester from St. Louis earlier in the day.

Lapierre had three assists, no goals and nine penalty minutes in 21 games for the Ducks.

Perrault, 27, is currently playing for the Manitoba Moose of the AHL. He has three goals and 18 points in 26 games this season. A former Ducks draft pick (fifth round, 2001), Perrault has 12 goals and 26 points in 96 NHL games for the Coyotes, Blues and Canucks.

Ducks 3, Avalanche 2.

One second remained on the clock in a 3-2 game, a perfect time for divine intervention.

“All of a sudden the puck came out of nowhere and hit me on the side of the head,” Ducks goalie Dan Ellis said. “I heard it hit a post. I was just praying that it hit the right post. Thank God it stayed out.”

Indeed, in a game the Ducks had to win, Milan Hejduk’s late shot off the post might have been the turning point. Should Anaheim reach the playoffs, it will be a moment to remember. So too will Todd Marchant’s first goal of the season, Brandon McMillan’s game-winner, and Erik Johnson’s bone-headed giveaway that led to Ryan Getzlaf’s goal in the first period.

Often, the rest wasn’t pretty. Ellis finished with 22 saves but he was outplayed by his counterpart for the second time in as many games as a Duck. Peter Budaj made 11 of his 29 saves on the power play and could hardly be blamed for the Avs’ 13th loss in their last 14 games.

The Ducks snapped a five-game losing streak and won for the first time without injured goalie Jonas Hiller since Curtis McElhinney backstopped a 5-4 overtime win in Calgary. They remained one point behind the 72-point cutoff for the eighth and final playoff spot.

With the Ducks on the power play at 11:23 of the third period, McMillan broke a 2-2 tie, scoring on a putback after Budaj came out aggressively after allowing a rebound to the right of the net.

The rookie center was only out on the power play because Saku Koivu missed his third straight game with a groin injury. Yet he, Bobby Ryan and Jason Blake (and defensemen Luca Sbisa and Francois Beauchemin) turned it into a minute-long cycle play that wore down the Colorado PK with Brandon Yip serving a double-minor for high-sticking Beauchemin.

Considering the Ducks were outshot 23-19 at even strength –and only had one power-play goal to show for their previous six games –it was a badly needed goal.

“We found a way to score a big power play goal to win us the hockey game,” head coach Randy Carlyle said. “That is what you have to do. You have to find ways to get points at this time of the year. Hopefully this is a springboard for our hockey club to get back to playing the way we are quite capable of playing.”

Marchant’s goal ended a streak of 70 games without a goal. The goal, the 186th of his career, came at the end of a give-and-go with Sbisa. The defenseman jumped up in the rush and backhanded the puck to Marchant, streaking down the slot; Marchant needed only get a sliver of stick on the puck to re-direct it past Budaj.

“It’s certainly the longest drought of my career,” Marchant said. “I’m not sure what it was prior to this, but it wasn’t anywhere near this. I didn’t let it get me down mentally. I know I’ve got many other roles on this team besides scoring goals. The bottom line is it’s about wins this time of the year. It’s not about how many goals or assists I get. It’s about winning hockey games, getting into the playoffs and see how far it takes you.”

A few more notes:
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Ducks make minor swap with Bruins. Update.

As first reported by CSNNE.com, the Ducks have acquired enforcer Brian McGrattan from the Boston Bruins. Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos wrote on his Twitter account Sunday that the Ducks will also receive minor-league defenseman Sean Zimmerman in exchange for minor-league forwards David Laliberte and Stefan Chaput.

Update: The team confirmed the trade after the Ducks’ 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche.

McGrattan has the most NHL experience among the four players involved. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound forward has 395 penalty minutes in 182 NHL games for the Senators, Coyotes and Flames. He’s spent the entire season with the Providence Bruins, Boston’s AHL affiliate, recording four goals, five points and 97 penalty minutes in 39 games. McGrattan has never appeared in an NHL playoff game.

Zimmerman, 23, has four assists and no goals in 30 games between Providence and Rochester.

Both players’ contracts expire at the end of this season, according to CapGeek.com.

Laliberte had five goals and nine points in 29 games for Syracuse, the Ducks’ AHL affiliate. Chaput had three goals and seven points in 27 games.

Chaput was originally acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes in the Ryan Carter trade. Laliberte was acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers in the Danny Syvret trade.

Wild 3, Ducks 2, OT.

Setting aside Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s breakaway goal in overtime for a moment, the Ducks did well to salvage a point against the Minnesota Wild on Friday. Two minutes away from a regulation loss on home ice, the Ducks forced overtime to remain one point behind eighth place in the Western Conference.

However, the three teams ahead of them– Chicago, Dallas and Nashville –all have one game in hand. And their slide from first place in the division (and third in the conference) on Feb. 13 to fifth place in the division (11th in the conference) shouldn’t sit well.

Remember 10 days ago how there was that 2-point gap between first and fifth place in the Pacific Division? It’s a 9-point gap now.

“We have to look at the positives,” said defenseman Francois Beauchemin, whose putback goal with 2:00 left in the third period allowed the Ducks to tie the game at 2 and force overtime. “We got one point. That is not enough, but we’ll take that. We’ll have a good practice tomorrow and go back to work on Sunday. We have to take it one game at a time.”

One positive is that it’s looking easier to blame the goaltending. Even with Saku Koivu’s groin injury keeping him out of the lineup a second straight day, the Ducks put 48 shots on Jose Theodore — two off their season high.

Is Dan Ellis an upgrade over Curtis McElhinney as a temporary starter? Obviously Bob Murray thought so before making the trade with Tampa on Thursday (and was rewarded today with a four-year contract extension). Clayton Stoner’s go-ahead goal with 4:57 left in the third period might disagree.

Ellis stopped 28 of 31 in his Ducks debut, a respectable .903 save percentage. He could hardly be blamed for John Madden’s first-period goal at the end of a 2-on-1 rush, but all three goals he allowed came on the rush with nobody standing between him and the shooter.

So why is being able to isolate the goaltending a positive again? Jonas Hiller is working his way back from what he’s been told is a case of vertigo, and that’s treatable. Hiller doesn’t even have to board a plane for a while; the Ducks are at home until March 9, play once in Denver, then come back to Southern California for their next four games.

In the meantime, all the Ducks really have to do is keep it close in the standings. That should be the plan, at least. Maybe this team can win without Hiller — it’s now 0-4-1 since Hiller last went on IR — but as Corey Perry said, “it’s a matter of finding those bounces again that we were getting early on when we were winning.”

A few more notes:
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Ducks give Murray four-year extension. Updated with Murray comments.

The Ducks have extended the contract of general manager Bob Murray through the 2015-16 season, the team announced today. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

The NHL trade deadline is three days away, but the Ducks didn’t wait that long to hand Murray his report card.

“Bob has positioned us well for the future,” CEO Michael Schulman said in a statement. “He has added youth to our current lineup, with several exciting prospects still on the horizon. He deserves the stability this contract extension brings.”
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Ray Emery on making it back (almost).

The Ducks hope Ray Emery doesn’t have to back up his words with actions. Not yet, at least.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I was ready to contribute,” Emery said Thursday, following his first NHL practice in more than a year. “If I get a chance, I’m going to try to make the most of it, try to do my best.”

Earlier in the morning, general manager Bob Murray said that Emery would ideally get his next game action in a Syracuse Crunch uniform.

Emery made three starts for the Crunch, going 2-1-0 with 2.62 goals-against average and .925 save percentage, after the Ducks signed him to a two-way contract last week. On Wednesday, he was back on an NHL bench as the back-up to Curtis McElhinney against the Kings. Reading into the situation, Emery will probably back up Dan Ellis tomorrow against the Minnesota Wild.

“I think we have to stick to the game plan with him,” Murray said. “He’s here now, he’s getting shots, he’s getting NHL shooters right now. He’s (working) with (goaltending consultant) Pete Peeters. He’s going to be here, obviously, until Jonas (Hiller) comes back. He’s got to play more games. Hopefully at the end of all this, we have three strong goaltenders that are ready to make a run.”
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Ducks ship McElhinney to Tampa for Dan Ellis.

As the Ducks’ goaltending world turns, Curtis McElhinney is out and Dan Ellis is in.

The straight-up swap with the Tampa Bay Lightning was completed in the early hours Thursday. Ellis was scheduled to arrive tonight and be ready to play Friday against the Minnesota Wild.

The trade means a couple things for the Ducks. One, that the team thinks Ray Emery isn’t ready for NHL games and two, that McElhinney isn’t ready to be a starter indefinitely – at least, as long as Jonas Hiller is dealing with the brain issues that he’s been told are a result of vertigo.

“We just felt that we needed some more experience going down the stretch,” general manager Bob Murray said. “We gave Curtis a chance to pay last night, and we thought he played OK last night. Going forward with the uncertainty with Jonas at the moment, we felt we needed more experience. Dan has had experience being a number one, and playing in the playoffs.”
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Kings 3, Ducks 2.

Wednesday was a long day for the Ducks.

Jonas Hiller said he’s got vertigo, Timo Pielmeier was demoted to Syracuse, Ray Emery was flown in to Anaheim, Curtis McElhinney earned another start, Saku Koivu tried to play despite a groin injury but sat, Ryan Getzlaf tried to play but his wife gave birth so he sat out too, and then the Ducks lost 3-2 to the Kings.

Time to breathe now.

A one-goal loss to the Kings was about the most uplifting way to extend a losing streak to four games, short of earning a point in overtime or a shootout. Figure that with Getzlaf and Koivu in the lineup, Jarkko Ruutu isn’t starting the game on the top line; the Ducks are putting more pressure on Jonathan Quick and not relying on a pair of deflections to constitute their offense; and certainly Bobby Ryan and Brandon McMillan aren’t dressing as the No. 1 and 2 centers.

“I think we played good enough to win the game,” Teemu Selanne said, and against a team that isn’t as hot as the Kings (9-1-3 in their last 13 games), he’s probably right.

Here’s the game story, and here are a few details I left out:
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Emery up, will back up tonight; Pielmeier down; Hiller update.

Well that didn’t take long.

Ray Emery was recalled from AHL affiliate Syracuse and will back up Curtis McElhinney tonight when the Ducks play the Kings. The move seemed inevitable after Emery’s 34-save effort last night for the Syracuse Crunch, his third start in five days after going 12 months without playing a live game.

Emery went 2-1-0 with a 2.62 goals-against average and .925 save percentage with the Crunch. He will wear number 36 with the Ducks.

“We didn’t think it was going to be this quick, but he’s played three hockey games, he’s played really well in them,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle told reporters this morning. “If we need him, we’re not afraid to put him in the net.”

Timo Pielmeier, who struggled in his first NHL appearance Saturday in St. Louis, was assigned to Syracuse.

Jonas Hiller, meanwhile, gave an update on his status Wednesday, telling reporters that the latest, most specific diagnosis of his “balance issue” is vertigo.
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