By Adam Brady (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ANAHEIM – On a night when they were mathematically eliminated from the postseason, the Ducks certainly didn’t look like a non-playoff team against the San Jose Sharks.
As the Ducks were knocking off their Northern California rivals and perennial posteason contenders by a 3-1 score at Honda Center, Dallas won its game in Edmonton to officially close the door on Anaheim’s faint playoff hopes.
"I told them I was really proud of them," coach Bruce Boudreau said of his Ducks. "I thought we played a heck of a hockey game tonight and we had to because they played really hard. I thought the pace was tremendous. It just shows that we no quit and we’re not going to quit. We’re not going to lay down for anybody. We’ll play this way right until the end."
The loss dropped the Sharks from the Pacific Division lead all the way to eighth in the Western Conference by virtue of Dallas' 3-1 win in Edmonton and LA's 3-0 victory in Calgary. The Sharks, who had won three in a row entering the night, have seven straight playoff berths and four consecutive Pacific Division titles.
"I think this team really deserved more than we’re getting right now," Selanne said. "We all know the first half was so bad. The second half we had to do some miracles. It doesn’t really happen in this league very often. That is very disappointing."
Selanne scored the eventual game-winner 5:22 into the third period, as Luca Sbisa hammered a one-timer from the high left wing that Selanne tipped through with the shaft of his stick. It was the 25th goal of the year for the Finnish Flash.
With the Ducks clinging to a 2-1 lead over the final minutes, San Jose ultimately sent goalie Antti Niemi to the bench, and Perry had a wide open net in front of him with just seconds left. He elected to give the puck to linemate Ryan Getzlaf, who missed wide right with a backhand. Perry recovered the puck off the wall and shot it, but Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle went sliding into the net to knock it off its supports. Officials ruled that Boyle ran into the net intentionally and awarded Perry the automatic goal with 8.9 seconds left.
According to Rule 63.6: "When the goal post has been displaced deliberately by the defending team when their goaltender has been removed for an extra attacker thereby preventing an impending goal by the attacking team, the Referee shall award a goal to the attacking team."
The Ducks and Sharks skated scoreless for the first 29 minutes until Bobby Ryan broke through at 9:22 of the second. Devante Smith-Pelly sent the puck from out of the deep corner to the top of the crease, where Ryan banged it into the open net for his 28th of the year.
But the celebration of that goal was short-lived as less than a minute later the Sharks took advantage of a Francois Beauchemin turnover to tie it. Jonas Hiller played the puck to Beauchemin behind the net and was scrambling back when Beauchemin gave the puck away to Logan Couture, who sent in front to Ryane Clowe for the easy goal.
That was the only damage San Jose would do, however, as Hiller was again sharp with 28 saves while extending his team record with his 70th start in 77 games this season.
"It’s a rivalry and it looks like we own them right now," Hiller said. "Everybody is really motivated and we didn’t want to eliminate ourselves. We wanted a different team to have to win their games. We are still trying to play good hockey. We don’t want to just give up. That is what we did tonight and that is why we won."
The Ducks face another Pacific Division rival and playoff hopeful when they head to Phoenix for a Saturday game, then play their last home contest of the season on Sunday against Edmonton.
"These games we are just trying to finish strong and see what happens," Selanne said. "A lot of guys are playing for jobs. I don’t know if there is any better motivation than that. I’m very proud of the guys. It’s a tough situation. But we are playing well."
Anaheim is 23-11-5 in its last 39 contests overall. In addition, the club has gone 14-5-1 in its last 20 at Honda Center.
The Ducks complete the 2011-12 season series against San Jose with a franchise-best 5-1-0 record (.833 win %). The previous high mark vs. the Sharks was 4-1-0 (.800 win %) set in both 1994-95 and 1995-96.
Scoring a goal in his second consecutive game (2-0=2), Teemu Selanne has moved to within two goals (currently at 662) of sharing 11th in all-time NHL goals (Jaromir Jagr, currently at 664). Selanne has earned 4-2=6 points in the last eight games and 4-5=9 in the last 13. His game-winner tonight accounted for the 106th GWG of his career, ranking sixth all-time in the NHL (Brendan Shanahan ranks fifth with 109 career GWG).
Jonas Hiller set a new franchise record for appearances in a season at 70 tonight (previously 69, Guy Hebert in 1998-99). His 70 starts this season is also a franchise record. Leading the NHL in both appearances and starts this season, Hiller has gone 19-11-5 over his last 35 appearances, with a .927 SV% (874-943) and 1.95 GAA (69 GA/2118 MIN).
Scoring his 28th goal of the season, Bobby Ryan now has 5-7=12 points with a +4 rating in the last 12 games.
With an assist on Bobby Ryan’s goal, Nick Bonino now has picked up 1-4=5 points in the last four contests.
Scoring his team-leading 36th goal of the season, Corey Perry has notched 2-1=3 points in the last four games. He has scored 22 goals (22-7=29) in his last 38 contests.
Tonight’s attendance was 14,780.
20:00 - END OF GAME - The Ducks win their fifth in six games vs. Sharks, 3-1.
19:52 - ANAHEIM GOAL - COREY PERRY - Perry has the empty net in front of him at center ice but feeds Getzlaf instead. He goes to the backhand against a San Jose defender and misses wide right. Perry picks up the puck off the wall and tries to shoot it, but Boyle intentionally slides into the net to knock it off its supports. Officials discuss it at length, but decide it's an automatic goal for Perry with 8.9 left and it's 3-1 Ducks. Getzlaf couldn't stop laughing after that miss.
19:20 - Sharks ice it with 39.2 left. Niemi back in after a timeout.
19:15 - Getzlaf tries to pass to Perry with the net empty, but it's knocked down and the Sharks recover it.
18:55 - Niemi to the bench.
16:53 - HIller slides over to stop a Braun shot, then grabs the floating puck out of the air.
15:01 - Smith-Pelly gives Braun a little shove from behind and Braun goes hard into the goalpost. Feeling some pain.
14:35 - Selanne picks off a cross-ice pass and is off and running alone, going to the backhand and getting stopped by Niemi. Looked like he saw that coming. Crowd was ready to go nuts.
13:57 - Hiller stamps out the puck like an old cigarette to put a stop to some scrambling in the Anaheim end.
It's over in Edmonton. Dallas wins 3-1 after LA beat Calgary 3-0, and the Ducks are officially eliminated from the postseason.
9:54 - Hiller with his patented windmill glove save, snatching the puck out of the air on a Pavelski bid from between the circles. Crowd loves it.
5:22 - ANAHEIM GOAL - TEEMU SELANNE - The puck is sent from Koivu out to Sbisa at the point, and he absolutely hammers a one-timer that Selanne redirects with the shaft of his stick with his back to the net. It's the 25th of the year for Selanne and it's 2-1.
4:04 - Hagman goes sliding into Niemi off a push from Boyle. The goal is off its rocker, as a buddy of mine used to say.
2:25 - Ryan gets in deep and his backhand is just barely turned away.
Dallas is up 3-1 in the third in Edmonton. If the Stars get a point, Anaheim is officially eliminated.
0:00 - Off and running in the third.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Ryan gets one, but Clowe gets one right back and it's 1-1.
16:50 - Havlat off the near post. Yeesh.
10:14 - SAN JOSE GOAL - RYANE CLOWE - Breakdown by the Ducks as Hiller plays the puck behind the net to Beauchemin and is scrambling back when Beauchemin gives the puck away to Couture, who feeds in front to Clowe for the goal. It's 1-1.
9:22 - ANAHEIM GOAL - BOBBY RYAN - Smith-Pelly gets the puck behind the goal line in the left corner, and makes a pinpoint feed to the top of the crease, where Ryan punches into the open net. That's the 28th for Ryan (going for 30 for a fourth straight year) and it's 1-0 Ducks.
9:05 - Koivu with an open chance from the slot, but can't get it through.
6:20 - Galiardi gets on a little breakaway, and throws it over the net and off the glass.
6:00 - Cogliano's shot creates a fat rebound for Selanne, but he can't lift it from the slot. Missed opportunity.
4:20 - Getzlaf's long shot is kicked away, as is Hagman's follow, then Getzlaf just misses on a chip at the rebound.
3:53 - Boyle's shot gets tipped on the way, and Hiller squeezes the pads together to make the last-second save.
2:30 - Sbisa puts the laydown on Moore.
0:00 - Here we go in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Ducks and Sharks with eight shots apiece, no goals apiece.
Serious uncomfortable moment as a couple swallows each other during Kiss Cam with the girl actually climbing on top.
17:45 - Niemi kicks away a nice backhand redirect by Hagman, and the rebound is just out reach of Perry.
16:30 - Smith-Pelly weaves in deep, but denied.
15:50 - Ryan waits for a fluttering puck to get to his feet, then rips it off the bounce, but Niemi is ready.
13:40 - Boyle with a rocket that Hiller lunges for and knocks away just wide.
12:40 - Pelley runs down a bouncing puck and backhands it off Niemi.
11:41 - Ryan slings one from the right wing into Niemi. BR is three away from 30 for a fourth straight year with five games to go.
9:43 - Hiller with a couple big stops so far on this PP. Sharks have seen that before.
9:00 - ANA Penalty - Lubomir Visnovsky, 2 min. tripping. Lubo takes down Braun near the Anaheim blue line. Easy one to call.
7:15 - Pavelski picks up the puck in front of Hiller and backhands off the iron.
Nate Guenin steps into the press box sporting a serious haircut.
4:30 - Selanne and Koivu looking to pop in a loose puck in the crease, but can't do it.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center. Ducks start with Perry, Getzlaf and, a slight surprise, Hagman. Starters in bold/italics.