Ducks 5, Colorado 4.

There’s really no such thing as a ho-hum win in Anaheim these days.

Monday could have been, given the matchup between two teams on opposite ends of the playoff picture. But an early 2-0 lead by the Avalanche, and the first three-goal, five-point game by an NHL player over the age of 40 changed that.

Teemu Selanne did not so much steal the show — he was the show, figuring into all five Ducks goals on a night when they needed every one.

“I’ve been feeling great all year,” he said. “I’ve been able to play with great players all the time. It has been fun. That’s the only reason I’m still around.”

The questions of whether or not Selanne will retire, but Monday’s game could only nudge him in the “should-I-stay” direction.

Here are some of the milestones Selanne achieved, courtesy of the Ducks’ PR staff:
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So far, no dj vu for Ducks.

On the eve of today’s game in Denver, with about a month to go in the regular season, the Ducks are in a roughly similar position to a year ago.

The 2009-10 team started slowly, climbed up to ninth place in the standings in February, and were three points out of eighth place by March 1. This year’s group started slowly, climbed as high as third in February, and were three points out of eighth place by March 1. The Ducks could be sitting in eighth place again tonight if they beat the Avalanche. (Of course, so could the Stars, Kings or Wild, depending on how things go.)
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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 3, Colorado 0.

Corey Perry completed his second career hat trick with an empty-net goal with 17.3 seconds left, and Curtis McElhinney notched his second career shutout.

Both players accomplished the feat earlier this season – Perry’s first career hat trick came Dec. 12 against the Minnesota Wild, and McElhinney’s first shutout came Nov. 10 against the Islanders.

There were some notable firsts. It was the Ducks’ first win against the Avs this season (on their first try) and it was the first time an Anaheim player scored all three of his team’s goals in a winning effort. Perry punched in a power-play goal at 13:51 of the first period, the Ducks’ only power-play goal on six tries. That included a 1:29-long 5-on-3 shift spanning the first two periods.

Colorado couldn’t take any momentum from the kill, and Perry made them pay. He spun T.J. Galiardi around in his tracks before scoring an even-strength goal at 1:53 of the third period,
before completing the scoring into an empty net.

“Their best player was real good tonight,” head coach Joe Sacco lamented afterward.

McElhinney was good too. The former Colorado College standout made a pair of outstanding saves, and a lot of routine ones, en route to the 25-save shutout. Jonas Hiller was scratched due to fatigue and Timo Pielmeier served as the backup to McElhinney.

“Curtis played well back there and made some big saves in crucial times,” Perry said. “The puck was bouncing around a little bit tonight and they had some pressure on us. We had some big blocks and we made sure that we could try to help Curtis out.”

The Avalanche were shut out for the fourth time this season, and lost for the fifth time in their last six games. While Colorado has fallen out of the Western Conference’s top eight, the Ducks used the win to temporarily tie San Jose at 62 points, three behind first-place Dallas. The Stars are playing the Philadelphia Flyers tonight.

A few more notes:
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Avalanche win, Ducks’ playoff hopes dim.

The Ducks’ last-ditch playoff bid hit a snag Sunday night, when the Colorado Avalanche pulled out a 5-4 overtime victory against visiting San Jose.

With four games left in the regular season, the eighth-place Avs now have 91 points in the standings, six more than the Ducks. Anaheim needs to gain seven or eight points in its final four games, and hope that Colorado does not earn more than two of eight points. They would also have to pass the Calgary Flames, who lost to the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-1 on Sunday.

The Ducks have won eight of their last 11 games after beating the Kings 2-1 in a shootout Saturday. Their chances of making the playoffs increased to 0.9 percent when Chicago beat Calgary on Sunday morning, but fell to 0.7 percent after Colorado’s win.

Ducks 5, Colorado 2. Updates with video.

Teemu Selanne scored the 601st goal of his career, and Jason Blake recorded five points – a goal and four assists – becoming the first Ducks player to do so since Corey Perry in Oct. 2008.

Selanne scored on a vintage goal, finishing a neutral zone breakaway with a wrister past Craig Anderson at 2:34 of the third period. Two days after Jari Kurri flew to Anaheim from Finland to recognize Selanne’s 600th career goal, Selanne matched Kurri at 17th on the career goal-scoring list.

Here’s the video of the (latest) historic goal by Selanne, with apologies for the Avalanche announcers, who make no mention of the history in the moment: 

 

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Ducks 5, Avalanche 2.

Teemu Selanne got a 600-goal monkey off his back, and the Ducks are staying alive.

Selanne reached the milestone 34 seconds into the second period with Anaheim skating 5-on-4.

Jason Blake, Matt Beleskey, Troy Bodie and Ryan Getzlaf also scored for the Ducks, who chased Craig Anderson with Bodie’s short-handed goal at 12:45 of the second period.

Jonas Hiller made 26 saves for the victory. Anaheim remains seven points out of the eighth and final playoff position, currently held by the Detroit Red Wings.

Colorado 4, Ducks 3.

The Ducks outshot the Avalanche 14-2 in the first period, built a 2-0 lead, then allowed four consecutive goals and began their post-Olympic stretch with a loss.

Jason Blake, Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer scored for the Ducks, while Colorado’s Chris Stewart, Peter Mueller, Matt Duchene and T.J. Galiardi put pucks past Jonas Hiller. The Avalanche converted three of six power plays against a Ducks squad reduced to five defensemen because of the pregame trade of Ryan Whitney to Edmonton.

Niedermayer, whose third-period goal deflected into the net off the skate of Scott Hannan, said the pregame trades of Whitney, Petteri Nokelainen and Vesa Toskala were still on players’ minds.

“But we still had a job to do,” he said. “We still know the way we need to play to have success and we didn’t do it, for whatever reason.”
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Home, sweet home for Ducks’ Olympians.

The Ducks’ migration south from Vancouver is not complete yet. And why would it be, with the myriad of medals to sort through – seven of them, the most of any team in the NHL – not to mention the gamut of emotions that come with them?

Maybe it’s not that surprising that goaltender Jonas Hiller, whose Swiss team was eliminated by the United States in the quarterfinals, chose not to watch the gold medal game between the U.S. and Canada on Sunday.

“I had family in town. I’ve seen enough hockey games until the end of the year. I didn’t really feel like I had to see hockey again,” Hiller said.

“I have to take my days where I can.”
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Ducks 4, Colorado 2.

If you missed the first 53 minutes of this one, you were fine.

The Ducks staged a remarkable comeback over the final 7:35, when they scored all four of their goals against a previously invincible Craig Anderson to beat the Avs 4-2.

Scott Niedermayer, Dan Sexton and Ryan Getzlaf led the march, and Todd Marchant finished it off with a lateempty-net goal, rewarding an effort that saw the Ducks (15-14-7) outshoot the Avalanche (21-12-6), 43-17.

Jonas Hiller stopped 15 shots, allowing the first NHL goal by rookie Brandon Yip in the first period, and another to Paul Stastny at 3:28 of the third period.

Niedermayer scored on a breakout play, catching Anderson out of position for the first time all game at 12:25 of the third period. At 15:05, Koivu made a slick move out from behind his own net, then fed Sexton in the bottom right circle for the rookie’s fifth goal this season.

The top-line of pair of Getzlaf and Corey Perry scored the game-winner with 25 seconds left in the third period, with Perry slipping a backhand pass to Getzlaf for his second assist of the night. Anderson received an unfitting reward for his 39-save effort, watching from the bench as Marchant scored an empty-netter with 10.4 seconds left.