Ducks 2, Kings 1.

The Ducks are going back to the playoffs.

Forty-year-old right wing Teemu Selanne virtually punched the ticket himself, scoring both goals for the Ducks, who can still finish as high as fourth but no lower than eighth.

Goaltender Dan Ellis made 23 saves in his first start since March 20, and the Ducks relieved the pressure to clinch in their final regular-season game tomorrow at Staples Center.

“It has been a grind for the last three months,” Selanne said. “I really believed that this team deserved to be in the playoffs. This was a big step forward. Now we can breathe a little bit. Tomorrow is another game where we can improve our standing a little bit and maybe get a better seed. We are going to take tomorrow’s game serious too.”

Check out all the game details in tomorrow’s editions. More notes and quotes to come …

Dallas wins, playoffs at stake tomorrow, and more.

The Ducks must wait another day to clinch a playoff berth after the Dallas Stars handed the Colorado Avalanche a 4-2 loss Thursday.

Aside from whether or not they will participate in the postseason, the biggest question facing the Ducks in their home-and-home series against the Kings is who will be in goal.

Ray Emery did not practice Thursday, one day after leaving midway through the Ducks’ 6-2 win over San Jose with an undisclosed lower-body injury. Emery finished the game on the bench, while Dan Ellis finished the final 29 minutes between the pipes.

“I felt a lot better this morning than I thought I would last night,” Emery said Thursday. “It’s a thing where I’m trying to be cautious, because I’m leery of things I’ve had in the past and I want to be able to contribute when I’m in there for a long period of time. It’s more of me being cautious.”

Said head coach Randy Carlyle, “we felt it was best for him to work out off-ice and have a treatment this morning, and we’ll make an assessment tomorrow morning at the morning skate.”

Emery was not the only Ducks player missing at practice.
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Kings-Ducks IV: Get worked up, unless you’re playing tomorrow.

Whether you’re a Ducks fan, a Kings fan, a hockey fan — or just a fan of round numbers — there are plenty of reasons to get worked up about tomorrow’s Kings-Ducks game (7:30 p.m. at Staples Center).

Considering the two teams have never qualified for the playoffs in the same season, the Kings and Ducks are approaching uncharted territory. The latest the two sides have ever shared space in the top eight was back on March 21, 2000. On that date the Kings had nine games left (34-26-13, fifth place in the Western Conference) and Ducks had eight games left (31-29-14, eighth place). The Kings wound up finishing fifth in the West that year while the Ducks finished ninth, four points behind San Jose for the final playoff berth.

Both teams were in the Western Conference’s top eight when play began Thursday; by the end of the night the Ducks had fallen to 10th without playing a game. With a win today, Anaheim would climb back into eighth place, even the head-to-head season series with the Kings at two games apiece, and come within two points of Los Angeles in the standings (85 to 83).

It will also be the 100th game between Southern California’s two NHL franchises.
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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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Matt Beleskey injury update; Kings-Ducks bullet points.

The Syracuse Post-Dispatch reported Tuesday that Matt Beleskey will need 2 to 3 weeks to rehab a shoulder injury, and that the forward might need surgery if the rehab doesn’t go well. Beleskey sustained the injury Saturday when he was hit by Hugh Jessiman in the Syracuse Crunch’s win over the Rochester Americans.

Even though he was passed over for Dan Sexton the last time the Ducks reached into the AHL, Beleskey had three goals and five points in seven games prior to Saturday. Based on those stats, it’s conceivable that Beleskey would be a candidate for a March recall once NHL rosters expand (or earlier, depending on injuries at the NHL level). That could change depending on the severity of the injury.

Beleskey had three goals and 10 points in 27 games with the Ducks this season, and nine goals and 21 points in 23 games with the Crunch.

Looking ahead to tonight’s game against the Kings, here are some facts and figures provided by the Ducks’ communications department about the head-to-head matchup:

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Selanne eyes return Monday, and other notes.

Teemu Selanne was in a jovial mood Sunday, which usually isn’t news. But with a groin injury keeping the right wing out of the last three games, it was a welcome sight inside Honda Center. The Ducks host the Kings on Monday night in the first meeting between the Southern California rivals this season, and Selanne wants to be on the ice.

“You know what, I’m counting myself in,” he said emphatically.

Selanne traveled with the team to Glendale for Saturday’s game against the Coyotes and took part in the pregame warm-up, then decided against playing. “I was really tight, so I discussed with our trainer, and decided it’s not worth that risk,” he said. “I’d rather miss one more.”

The 40-year-old, who is always ready with a numerical estimate of his health, said the groin was at 70 percent Friday, up to 83 percent Saturday and 90 percent on Sunday. “Tomorrow I’m expecting 95 and that’s good enough,” he said.

“I had this like three or four years ago, so I knew exactly what kind of injury we were talking about,” Selanne added. “If I played one more shift I would probably pull it bad. By saying that, the schedule we have was too much for me. But I hope I’m going to feel better tomorrow, because I really don’t want this to be any bigger problem than it is right now.”

Lubomir Visnovsky wasn’t as confident he would return from the back spasms that kept him out of Saturday’s game.

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Ducks 3, Kings 2.

Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf scored goals in regulation, and Teemu Selanne’s 4-on-3 overtime goal lifted the Ducks to a 3-2 win in their preseason finale.

Perry scored a 5-on-3 goal in the first period, and Getzlaf finished a breakaway of his own creation to put the Ducks up 2-0 early in the third period.

Jonas Hiller single-handedly lost the shutout with 4:10 left in the third period. With the Ducks skating 5-on-4, he left the crease to play a puck headed behind his net. Justin Williams followed the puck down the ice, stole it off Hiller’s stick, and tucked it inside the goal post before Hiller could cover it up.

Jack Johnson sent the game into overtime, sending a wrist shot into the back of the net from 55 feet out with 2:43 left.

Kings 8, Ducks 3.

It’s only the preseason, but Randy Carlyle could not simply brush this one off. For a moment after the Ducks’ 8-3 loss to the Kings, the coach was at a loss for words.

“We didn’t do anything to start to build on,” Carlyle said. “The
frustration; the lack of discipline, structure; we started to play
outside of our system — you’d almost think we never practiced defensive
zone coverage, when you watch the game the way we played in our own
zone.”

That’s not putting it kindly because, really, there was no way to. The insults coming from 12,520 tongues in Staples Center were almost as juicy as the rebounds coming off Curtis McElhinney’s chest pad (and there were plenty).

Each goal was a little less excusable than the one before – a 5-on-3 goal by Dustin Brown, a 5-on-4 goal by Wayne Simmonds, a Ryan Smyth backhander off a close-range rebound, a long-distance bomb by Jack Johnson. Those four gave the Kings a 4-0 lead by the end of the first period. Los Angeles held a 23-7 shots advantage after one (the tally was 18-3 at one point). After a slight Anaheim pushback in the second period, the Kings scored four straight goals to take an 8-1 lead midway through the third.

On a night that saw the Ducks’ energy line provide the most offense (the Josh Green to George Parros to Todd Marchant combination proved potent twice), Carlyle couldn’t let this one slide.

“I reacted,” he said. “Not real emotional, from a standpoint of yelling and screaming, it’s just a matter of fact the way we played is unacceptable. The lack of discipline on the first penalty. Next thing you know the momentum of everything swung in their favor. It’s 2-0 and we’re back on our heels.”
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Kings 5, Ducks 4, shootout.

It’s all over for the Ducks.

Their three remaining games were rendered meaningless about a minute before Anze Kopitar’s third-round shootout goal closed the books on this one. The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-3, also in a shootout, knocking the Ducks, St. Louis Blues and Calgary Flames out of playoff contention with one devastating blow.

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