VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - The Anaheim Mighty Ducks' big first period made their tough second period seem not so bad.
Anaheim jumped out to a four-goal lead, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 20 of his 39 saves in the middle frame to help the Mighty Ducks clinch a playoff spot with a 4-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night.
"My teammates made it easy on me by going up 4-0 so the pressure is off your shoulders a little bit when that happens," Giguere said after Anaheim moved seven points ahead of the ninth-place Canucks, who only have three games left. "This was a huge win. Now we can focus on getting ready for playoffs, we know for sure we'll be there."
With 14 wins in 18 games, and fourth-place Nashville just two points ahead of them, the Ducks can even start thinking about opening the playoffs at home
"That's a possibility now," Giguere said. "This is definitely a confidence booster, especially against a team that was very desperate."
The Canucks may have finished desperate, but they started tight, surrendering a goal to Scott Niedermayer 35 seconds in, and another to his brother, Rob, midway through the first period.
Andy McDonald converted on a 5-on-3 just 4 minutes later to give Anaheim a 3-0 lead. Giguere kept it that way with point-blank saves off Ed Jovanovski and Todd Bertuzzi in the final 16 seconds of the period.
"We had a lot of chances, we just couldn't bury them," Bertuzzi said.
Vancouver outshot Anaheim 21-3 in the second period, and Ryan Kesler finally beat Giguere on a power play. But by then, Teemu Selanne had already made it 4-0.
Daniel Sedin hit a post before Anson Carter added another power-play goal 6:14 into the third, but it wasn't enough. The Canucks lost to the Mighty Ducks for the second time in nine days, and remain two points behind Edmonton, which holds the last spot above the playoff cutoff in the Western Conference.
"Giggy made some huge saves for us and we need that," said Scott Niedermayer, who also added an assist. "If you're going to stand in there and beat some good teams, you need to have some good goaltending and we had that tonight."
After the Niedermayer brothers made it 2-0, a pair of penalties left Vancouver two-men down 3 minutes later, and McDonald, who also had two assists, quickly converted a 3-on-1 break to give the Ducks a three-goal cushion.
"We didn't have the bounces tonight and it's as simple as that," Canucks captain Markus Naslund said. "It seemed like everything they tried went in and then we're trying to work our way back and we just couldn't finish it."
Vancouver goalie Alex Auld continued to struggle against Anaheim, finishing with 14 saves after being pulled from his last two starts against the Mighty Ducks. He was distracted when Selanne cut through the crease as Niedermayer shot a 40-foot wrist shot on the first goal, and gave up a bad rebound on a sharp-angle shot on the second.
"You've got to make that save," Auld said of the first goal. "It's too crucial to be letting in goals like that."
Auld didn't have much chance on McDonald's tic-tac-toe goal, or when Selanne made it 4-0 at 7:47 of the second period with a cross-ice pass that bounced off former Ducks defenseman Keith Carney and into the top corner of the net.
It was also a rough night for Carney, acquired by the Canucks from Anaheim just before the March 9 trade deadline. In addition to putting Selanne's goal into his own net, he was caught out of position on the second and third Mighty Ducks goals after pinching at the other end.
Notes: The Canucks are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2000, two years after Brian Burke took over as general manager. Burke, who was fired after Vancouver won the Northwest Division in 2003-04, is in his first season as the Ducks general manager. ... Vancouver will play a home-and-home series Wednesday and Thursday against the San Jose Sharks, who are four points ahead. ... Anaheim will continue its five-game road trip in Calgary, Edmonton and San Jose before finishing the regular season at home against the Flames. ... Selanne's 39th goal gave him 26 points in 13 games. McDonald has 18 in 11.
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