Sexton up, Lapierre receives his passport, etc.

Updating an earlier item, the Ducks officially announced that Dan Sexton has been recalled from AHL affiliate Syracuse. Sexton hasn’t been with the Ducks since Dec. 18. In the meantime, he’s scored four goals and nine points in eight AHL games.

Sexton and center Maxim Lapierre might both play their first NHL games of 2011, after Lapierre received his American work visa and became eligible to play tomorrow night against Nashville.

The team is still awaiting word on Ryan Getzlaf to determine an exact timetable for his recovery from multiple nasal sinus fractures. Count on him missing a third game since he suffered the injury a week ago in Glendale.

Randy Carlyle told reporters after Tuesday’s practice that Jason Blake (shoulder) is a possibility to play tomorrow. If he can go, the Ducks have plenty of options at forward.

Ducks 2, Chicago 1.

Jonas Hiller admitted to getting a little lucky at the end.

“Oh yeah, definitely,” Hiller said after a memorable 39-save performance, including a perfect 19-save third period.

Jack Skille and Viktor Stalberg did their best to thwart perfection, but were both victims of a great Honda Center Heist – Skille’s shot from a few feet out was gloved down at the goal line (it went to video review in Toronto; judge for yourself here), and Stalberg’s shot deflected off Hiller’s glove and over the net.

That was as close as Chicago came to tying the game after early goals by Andreas Lilja (his first as a Duck) and Corey Perry stood. That is, unless you consider the scary moment in the second period when Andy Sutton’s stick accidentally got through the goalie’s mask and clipped his eyebrow. “I’m glad nothing happened,” Hiller said in the understatement of the evening.

More details in tomorrow’s editions. A few more notes …
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Friday’s game story.

The blogs are back up and running, a great way to ring in 2011, and I’ll take advantage of this space to give you the full version of yesterday’s game story. Only a partial version made it online:

The Ducks will begin the new year the same way they ended the last – without their captain and star center, Ryan Getzlaf.

Turns out that’s not the end of the world.

The Ducks took advantage of a tired Philadelphia Flyers squad for a 5-2 win Friday before an announced crowd of 17,103 at Honda Center. Jason Blake and Lubomir Visnovsky scored two goals apiece and Bobby Ryan added another, each of them ending a notable scoring drought.

“He’s irreplaceable,” Blake said of Getzlaf. “He’s our captain, he’s our leader, not only on the ice but in the locker room. So I mean, you can’t replace a guy like that. Guys obviously have to give a little bit more … it was a good team effort.”

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Ducks 5, Flyers 2.

Jason Blake and Lubomir Visnovsky had two goals apiece, and Bobby Ryan added another to lift the Ducks to a 5-2 win in their first game since Ryan Getzlaf’s potentially serious injury.

Ryan centered a top line with left wing Matt Beleskey and right wing Corey Perry. Other than that, the lineup looked mostly the same, with the Masterton Line of Blake (two goals), Teemu Selanne (two assists) and Saku Koivu (two assists) coming up the biggest. Defenseman Toni Lydman also had two assists for the Ducks, including a precision
pass to spring Blake on a breakaway for his first goal of the game.

Jonas Hiller made 35 saves and stood tall after Jeff Carter’s goal brought the Flyers within 3-2 at 3:30 of the third period.

Visnovsky’s goal, with 3:10 left in the game, gave him 100 for his career and completed the scoring.

The Ducks blocked 14 shots, including four by Andy Sutton and three by Visnovsky. Cam Fowler blocked another late that appeared to injure the 19-year-old defenseman, but Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said that Fowler was OK after the game.

More details in tomorrow’s editions.

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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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 6, Phoenix 3.

The only certainty at the moment in the Pacific Division is that you can’t be certain about anything in the Pacific Division.

All five teams are separated by two points, thanks to the Ducks’ 6-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday. Losers of six straight, the Ducks ended the Coyotes’ seven-game winning streak by scoring five straight goals to erase a 3-1 deficit.

Bobby Ryan scored three of the five for his first hat trick of the season. Corey Perry scored one and Brandon McMillan had another, the first goal of his NHL career, off a precision pass by Ryan Getzlaf from behind the Coyotes’ net.

Jason Blake scored in the first period against Anaheim goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who had allowed six goals in his past four games but doubled that total Saturday. “Bryz” fell to 9-7-2 against the Ducks in his career.
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Chicago 3, Ducks 2, OT.

In the span of two days in Chicago, Jonas Hiller went from a hospital to helping the Ducks salvage a point in the standings.

Hiller, who received four sutures to close a cut above his eye sustained in practice Saturday, made 40 saves in the overtime loss to the Blackhawks. He had little chance on Viktor Stalberg’s re-direction of a Duncan Keith shot with 28 seconds left in overtime.

Corey Perry scored both goals for the Ducks (10-7-2), who saw their six-game winning streak end. Both teams had plenty of missed chances in an up-and-down game, and Blackhawks backup Corey Crawford had some big saves among his 24.

“They took it to us in the second and third (periods,” Perry said. “Hillsie stood tall in there for those shots he had to face. Overall we didn’t feel like we played the way we feel we wanted to, but we got a point.”

Patrick Kane took advantage of a lively puck off the end boards to put Chicago up 1-0 at 3:37 of the opening period. Perry answered with an unassisted goal less than a minute later. Jason Blake created the chance on the forecheck by pressuring Keith from behind; the reigning Norris Trophy winner coughed the puck up to Perry, who barely had to skate before firing in a wrister at 4:34.

A power-play goal by Marian Hossa at 11:24 of the middle period restored Chicago’s lead, and ended a streak of 17 straight penalties killed by the Ducks.

Randy Carlyle shook up the lines for the third period, but that barely factored into Perry’s equalizer at 3:36 of the third period. Perry created the chance by himself, gaining the blue line up the left wing, turning sharply to cut across the offensive zone, then faking his way around Niklas Hjalmarsson in the right circle and firing a wrister into the far side of the net past Crawford.

For Perry, the goals were his team-leading seventh and eighth of the season.

A few more notes:

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Ducks 3, San Jose 2, OT.

Saku Koivu’s faceoff win led to a Lubomir Visnovsky goal with 32.6 seconds left in overtime, lifting the Ducks to their fourth straight win.

Jason Blake and Corey Perry also scored for the Ducks, who were outshot 41-20 and leaned on a 39-save effort from Jonas HIller.

Torrey Mitchell scored 1:42 into the opening period to draw first blood. With the Sharks down 2-1, Devin Setoguchi tied the game on a one-timer seconds after a Toni Lydman penalty expired as two Ducks (Corey Perry and Andreas Lilja) were skating without their sticks.

Antero Niittymaki made 18 saves for the Sharks, who were playing without Joe Thornton while their captain served the final game of a two-game suspension.

Shameless plug: If you’re by a radio, tune in to “Duck Calls” With Josh Brewster on AM-830 – I’ll be coming on the show after Ducks defenseman Andy Sutton, around 11 p.m.