Ducks 5, Calgary 4, OT.

Teemu Selanne can’t remember being part of a team that pulled out as many late wins as this group of Ducks. And if it hasn’t happened to the 40-year-old right wing, then it probably hasn’t happened here before.

The Ducks’ 5-4 overtime win over the Calgary Flames was their second OT win in as many days and their fourth this month. Most importantly, it allowed the Ducks to reach eighth place in the Western Conference and dropped the Flames to 10th.

One night after Corey Perry scored off a clean snipe in overtime to beat the Kings, it was Perry again who got credit for deflecting Toni Lymdan’s slapshot at 2:38 of overtime to beat Calgary. Perry became the first player in franchise history to score overtime goals in consecutive games, and gave Anaheim overtime wins in back-to-back games for just the third time ever. Two have come in the last month.

What does it all mean?

“It just says that we have fight left in us at the end of the game, and we don’t just roll over,” Perry said. “There’s always a chance for us.”

The Ducks squandered an early 3-0 lead when Jarome Iginla’s power-play goal at 7:10 of the third period put Calgary ahead 4-3. But Selanne’s re-direction of a Ryan Getzlaf shot tied the game at 4 with 2:01 left in the third period.

“I’d like to see that we don’t put ourselves in that situation that many times,” Selanne said, “but it doesn’t really matter how you win the games, you need those two points. … Every point is so critical right now. It’s unbelievable how tight it is.”

And therein lies the value of the Ducks’ ability to bounce back. On Sunday the Predators needed overtime to beat Buffalo, while the Blackhawks got a goal in the final seven minutes to beat the Coyotes. On Saturday, seven of the 10 games were either decided by one goal, or two including empty-netters.

So unless your opponent is already looking to next year, it’s unreasonable to expect to win big in the NHL — or simply to believe that a 3-0 lead gained six minutes into a game will stand. Calmness under pressure is a virtue.

The Ducks remained calm even after Bobby Ryan couldn’t convert a penalty-shot attempt 2:34 into the overtime period, when he was tripped en route to the net by Calgary defenseman Steve Staios. It was Ryan’s second overtime penalty-shot attempt this month; he converted the first to beat Jimmy Howard and the Detroit Red Wings on March 2.

“Penalty shots are funny. Everybody thinks it’s either make or break, but it’s only one play in the game,” Getzlaf said. “It’s definitely an emotional play, but it’s one of those situations where we knew what we had to do.”

Getzlaf took the ensuing faceoff draw and won it by kicking the puck (literally, with his skate) out to Lydman for the game-winning slapshot.

Some more notes/observations:
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Perry named ‘Third Star of the Week.’

Corey Perry was named the NHL’s third star of the week on Monday. Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby earned the number one star and Vancouver Canucks left wing Daniel Sedin was named the second star.

Here’s the official release from the league:

Perry led all goal scorers with five and added two assists as Anaheim (37-27-5, 79 points) won twice in three starts. Perry scored in each game, beginning with two goals and one assist in a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers Mar. 9. He recorded one goal and one assist in a 6-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche Mar. 11 and finished the week with a two-goal effort in a 5-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes Mar. 13. Perry ranks fifth in League scoring with 75 points (36-39–75) in 69 games.

Ducks 5, Rangers 2.

After Lubomir Visnovsky had completed his second career hat trick last Friday, a reporter asked Randy Carlyle about getting that kind of contribution from a player who wasn’t one of the team’s “big guys.”

Maybe a game like Wednesday’s will dispel any doubts about Visnovsky’s stature.

Visnovsky is now tied for the NHL lead in points by a defenseman (54) after his three-point game against the Rangers. Visnovsky and Corey Perry both had two goals and an assist, and Bobby Ryan scored a goal and collected three assists what became a one-sided contest.

“We all have become accustomed to his level of skill when he does shoot the puck,” Carlyle said of Visnovsky. “He shoots it extremely accurately and hard. He gets to play
with a pretty dependable partner in Toni Lydman, who doesn’t really join the rush. That gives him freedom.”

Dan Ellis allowed a 1-on-1 goal to Brandon Dubinsky on the Rangers’ first shot of the game, but regrouped in time to stop 30 of 32. Lydman, Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu – seeing his first action after missing the last six games with a groin injury – all had an assist.

As Bobby Ryan said, in what may only have been a slight overstatement – to take nothing away from Ray Emery’s door-opening skills – “Twenty guys contributed tonight.”

Notes and observations:
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No setback, Hiller says, just the same strange symptoms.

The nature of Jonas Hiller’s injury, and a timetable for his recovery, seem about as clear as they were a month ago.

Asked after Tuesday’s practice to describe exactly what he had, Hiller said the latest diagnosis of something called “positional vertigo” was ruled out.

“They can cure that pretty easily through different positionings and turning you around, and get rid of that pretty quick,” he said. “They tried that a couple times. it didn’t work on me so they ruled that out. So it’s a kind of vertigo. Nobody can really tell me where it’s coming from. Some people think it’s a virus in my inner ear. Other people say that my inner ear got concussed. Nobody can really tell me. Sure I want to know what caused it. I want to get better.”

In so many words, Hiller said he’s been advised to provoke the feelings of panic that are often triggered by turning his head or passing the puck, “to realize that it’s a normal situation.”

The scariest aspect of this is that, since he doesn’t know the source of the problem, Hiller has no assurances that it isn’t something he will have to deal with long-term.

That potentially bleak outlook contradicts what appeared to be a big sign of progress –Hiller’s first practice with teammates since he was placed on injured reserve Feb. 16.
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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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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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Minneosta 5, Ducks 1.

The Ducks’ momentum officially took a turn for the worse Friday.

If the excuse of a back-and-forth game against a high-scoring Washington Capitals squad served as an excuse in Wednesday’s 7-6 loss in Anaheim, it was tougher to justify a 5-1 loss on the road to Minnesota. Corey Perry deflected a Bobby Ryan shot past Niklas Backstrom 3:30 into the game, but the Wild answered with five straight – including two on the power play and one short-handed – to ice the game.

Curtis McElhinney stopped 21 of 26 shots and looked no less vulnerable Friday than he did two days earlier. He allowed goals on consecutive shots by Eric Nystrom and Kyle Brodziak 27 seconds apart in the second period, making it a 4-1 game, and prompting Randy Carlyle to call timeout. Carlyle allowed his goalie to stay in, but one has to figure that the leash on McElhinney is a bit shorter now. Timo Pielmeier served as the backup for the second straight game, and he might well be the starter tomorrow night when the Ducks visit St. Louis.

Former Duck Matt Cullen, Martin Havlat and Mikko Koivu also scored for Minnesota. Koivu scored at 5:01 of the first period, then blocked an Andy Sutton shot at 7:09 and didn’t return. But the Ducks (32-23-4) couldn’t take advantage of a Wild squad (31-22-5) missing its best player.

The back-to-back losses mean the Ducks are still stuck in the same 68-point logjam at the bottom of the tight Western Conference playoff picture.

A few more notes:
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Ducks lose a wild one, trade Mara to Montreal.

Alex Semin’s third goal of the game, with 1:47 left in the third period, sent the Ducks to a wild 7-6 loss to the Washington Capitals at Honda Center.

Easily lost in the 13-goal outburst was the fact that the Ducks squandered a golden opportunity to take over first place in the Pacific Division.

The Dallas Stars suffered their second loss in as many days, 4-2 to the Calgary Flames, creating a five-way logjam in the Western Conference standings. The Ducks (32-22-4) are mired in the middle with the fourth through eighth-place teams all tied at 68 points. The entire Pacific Division is separated by two points, from first-place Phoenix (30-19-9, 69 points) to fifth-place Los Angeles (32-22-3, 67 points).

Just easily overlooked was the postgame announcement of a trade.
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Ducks 4, Edmonton 0.

So much for the concept of a “trap game.”

The rebuilding Edmonton Oilers banished any notions of upsetting the Ducks, who were coming off quality wins in Vancouver and Calgary, by sending a meager 12 shots toward Jonas Hiller — a new record for the fewest shots by an Anaheim opponent in a shutout win.

Bobby Ryan scored twice and Brandon McMillan and Teemu Selanne tallied goals as the Ducks completed a sweep of their four-game Northwest Division road trip. Their sixth straight road win is the longest active streak in the league and one shy of a franchise record.

Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf had a pair of assists, on both of Ryan’s goals. All of Anaheim’s top three lines figured into the scoring. Ryan’s second goal of the game, at 1:31 of the third period, chased Edmonton starter Devan Dubnyk (15 shots-11 saves).

The Washington Capitals pay a rare visit to Honda Center on Wednesday. By then, the Ducks could be playing for sole possession of first place in the division. Anaheim (32-21-4) and Dallas (31-19-6) both have 68 points, most in the Pacific, but Dallas currently holds the top spot by virtue of having played one fewer game. The Stars are in the midst of a 1-6 slump and visit Edmonton on Tuesday, when they will make up the game in hand.

A few more notes, courtesy of the Ducks’ PR staff:
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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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