Ducks 2, Senators 1, SO.

With the lousy season that the Senators are having – they’re equally close to the last Eastern Conference playoff spot and the worst record in the NHL – try saying with a straight face that a shootout was a desirable outcome Tuesday.

On the other hand, Ottawa was 0-6 in games that go beyond three periods. And with Jonas Hiller stopping nearly everything the Senators sent his way, the Ducks could say they planned it this way all along.

Bobby Ryan scored on the Ducks’ second shootout attempt, and Hiller stoned all three Ottawa shooters, to kick off the Ducks’ four-game road trip with a 2-1 win. Hiller also made 39 saves in a 65-minute game that saw Ottawa outshoot Anaheim 40-27.

Corey Perry scored the Ducks’ lone goal in regulation, his team-leading 24th of the season, at 14:30 of the first period. Perry was in the process of falling backwards when he somehow lifted a shot over the pads of goalie Brian Elliott (26 saves).

Milan Michalek created the Sens’ lone goal when he drew the attention of the Ducks’ defense into the middle of the slot, then somehow – from his rear end – put a backhand shot on Hiller. Mike Fisher snuck behind a distracted Ducks defense to poke the rebound past Hiller at 18:19 of the second period.

Elliott held up his end of the goalie duel in the third period, stoning Matt Beleskey on a breakaway for one of 12 saves to set the stage for overtime.

In the shootout, Elliott wilted at the forehand wrister of Ryan and Hiller stopped Daniel Alfredsson, Mike Fisher and Henrik Karlsson to preserve the win. The Ducks have won eight of their last 10 with games in Toronto, Montreal and Columbus looming before the All-Star break.

A few more notes:
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Ducks 3, Edmonton 2.

What appeared to be cakewalk for the Ducks over the floundering Edmonton Oilers turned into a mess in a hurry Sunday at Honda Center.

Somehow, a pair of goals by Teemu Selanne – the first going for his 1,300th career point – and another by Luca Sbisa held up, with Curtis McElhinney and the Ducks’ shot-blockers doing the dirty work late.

“We were forced to probably perform some extra work that really wouldn’t
have been necessary,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said, “but we found a way to win the hockey game.”

Goals by Magnus Paajarvi and Sam Gagner 26 seconds apart late in the second period slashed the Ducks’ 3-0 lead to 3-2. Anaheim was outshot 12-7 in the final period, and survived the final 3:12 short-handed. The Ducks also blocked 22 shots, led by Andreas’ Lilja’s five.

McElhinney was briefly relieved by Jonas Hiller in the second period after suffering a cut to his neck that required stitches. More on that, and the rest of the game, in tomorrow’s editions. here are a few notes that won’t make the paper:

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Ducks 6, Columbus 0.

A lot of things culminated for the Ducks tonight – an awesome month for Jonas Hiller, a revamped power play, the maturation of the young defensemen, and whatever strain of influenza is running through the visitors’ dressing room.

Randy Carlyle wasn’t afraid to highlight the latter in explaining the Ducks’ most lopsided win of the season and their largest on home ice since Dec. 20, 1996, a 7-0 win over Calgary.

“We were able to establish that template,” Carlyle said. “When we do
get on the puck and establish that strong forechecking game, we are a
hockey club that can be effective. Tonight was one of those nights. We
caught Columbus when they were a flat hockey club. They had the flu go
through their team. We seemed to have a half step on them tonight.”
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Ducks 3, Coyotes 1.

The tone was set early, when Jonas Hiller withstood an early barrage of shots, and continued long after Ryan Getzlaf left the ice spilling blood from his forehead.

There were some ugly moments to be sure, but the Ducks had to be pleased with a 3-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes in Glendale. Goals by Luca Sbisa (his first in the NHL), Joffrey Lupul and Corey Perry completed the scoring in the first period.

“I’m sure it probably wasn’t our best start, but we were able to brush
it off and found a way to score,” Hiller said after an outstanding 31-save effort, “and at the end everyone was playing well
and sacrificing for the team.”
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Ducks 4, Dallas 2.

After stumbling to one of their worst starts to a season in recent memory, the Ducks have emerged to win six straight.

One reason for the quick turnaround has to be the emergence of secondary scoring.

Second-line center Saku Koivu extended his point streak to a season-high five games with the game’s first goal, on a redirect of a centering feed by Teemu Selanne. Bobby Ryan scored the Ducks’ final two goals to give him seven on the season. Ryan Getzlaf’s second-period goal — off a beautiful no-look pass from Corey Perry — was his seventh this year. All four players — Ryan, Getzlaf, Koivu and Selanne — are all on pace to score more than 30 goals this season.

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Ducks 1, New York Islanders 0.

It was Military Appreciation Night at Honda Center on Wednesday.

Other than Saku Koivu’s third-period goal, Curtis McElhinney’s 27-save shutout, and Luca Sbisa’s return to the NHL, there wasn’t much else to appreciate in the Ducks’ fifth straight win.

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Sbisa up; Syvret, Beleskey, Sexton down.

In a busy day of transactions for the Ducks, defenseman Luca Sbisa is coming back from Syracuse, while defenseman Danny Syvret and forwards Matt Beleskey and Dan Sexton were assigned to the Crunch.

It’s no surprise that the Ducks were looking for reinforcements after a grueling overtime win Tuesday night in San Jose. After starting the season slowly in Anaheim, Sbisa had rediscovered his scoring touch in eight AHL games, posting two goals, nine points and a plus-2 rating for the Crunch. Syvret had a goal and an assist in six games for the Ducks, but had been a healthy scratch the last four games.

Sexton (who missed seven games with a broken nose) and Beleskey (who missed six games with a concussion) have been deemed healthy to play – just not in Anaheim. Neither player had scored a goal this season, and prospects Nick Bonino and Kyle Palmieri were recalled for what has been a mostly successfully NHL audition in the meantime.

Their audition figures to continue tonight at Honda Center against the New York Islanders.

The 23-year-old Sexton hasn’t appeared in an AHL game since last season’s Calder Cup playoffs, when he appeared in six games for the Manitoba Moose. In 41 games with the Ducks last season with the Ducks, the right wing had nine goals and 19 points.

Beleskey appeared in just 15 AHL games at the beginning of last season prior to being recalled to Anaheim, where he had 11 goals and 18 points in 60 games last season. The 22-year-old winger was rewarded with a two-year contract extension in training camp, and with regular playing time alongside Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf in the regular season.

Down on the farm, some Ducklings are hatching.

The Syracuse Crunch can loosely be broken down into two
groups of players: Those who are still developing, and those you might see in
Anaheim this season.

Nick Bonino and Kyle Palmieri cut to the front of the
promotion line with strong performances last week. By Wednesday they were in
Ducks uniforms, playing against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

That might have been ahead of the curve for both, who are
just beginning their first full season in professional hockey. Even though
Ducks fans have been hearing about Bonino and Palmieri for more than a year, if
anything they have been fast-tracked to the NHL.

“In baseball, most of the top prospects get put into
Single-A and work their way up,” said David McNab, the Ducks’ senior vice
president of hockey operations. “It doesn’t appear that they draft a player and
immediately stick them in Triple A. that’s what the American League is:
Triple-A baseball. It’s a tough league. There’s a lot of veteran hockey players
in the American Hockey League who are great players. It takes time.”

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Lilja gets his visa, Sbisa sent to Syracuse.

Defenseman Andreas Lilja has received his visa and was added to the Ducks’ active roster Saturday. To make room for the 35-year-old veteran, who signed last weekend but had his visa renewal delayed, the Ducks assigned defenseman Luca Sbisa to AHL affiliate Syracuse.

The 20-year-old Sbisa was a healthy scratch in three of the Ducks’ five games this season and averaged only 12:22 in the two games he played. After spending all but the first eight games of last season in the Western Hockey League, a well-built Sbisa arrived at training camp hoping to play an entire season in Anaheim. That dream will have to wait another season.

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St. Louis 5, Ducks 1.

There’s an almost endless repository of statistics that illustrate how bad the Ducks have played in their first three regular-season games. They have been outscored 13-2 and outshot 145-72. Their 43.0 faceoff percentage ranks 29th in the NHL, their 48.3 penalty minutes per game 30th.

Most importantly, a team that pledged to avoid another typical early-season swoon is off to an 0-3 start. If there is a hockey-statistical equivalent of the word acrid, just take your pick.

The good news – and there was some good news after Monday’s 5-1 loss in St. Louis – is that the Ducks got to come home in advance of Wednesday’s home opener against the Vancouver Canucks. By then they will probably have added a veteran to help on defense, Andreas Lilja, and have the potential for an opening-night atmosphere that tends to make visiting teams uncomfortable – the same atmosphere the Ducks faced Friday and Saturday in Detroit and Nashville, respectively.
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