Los Angeles Hockey: Francois Beauchemin

Kings: Martinez, Kopitar, Williams score for 3-0 lead on Ducks

March, 16, 2012
After the 1st period:

Kings 3, Ducks 0

The good: Three points back of the final playoff spot heading into tonight, the Kings needed to get some early momentum and a three-goal lead certainly helps. They went up, 1-0, just 2:40 into the game on a point shot from defenseman Alec Martinez that knuckled through traffic and into the net. It was fourth-line rookie Jordan Nolan who cut in front of the crease with Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin in tow. That seemed to cause goalie Jonas Hiller to lose track of the puck because he acted like he never saw it coming. No assist for Nolan on the play but Colin Fraser and Matt Greene were given credit for one. The Kings took a 2-0 lead on a great individual effort by Anze Kopitar, who carried the puck with speed through the middle of the neutral zone and then appeared to surprise Ducks defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky by going wide. Kopitar made a great shot from the top of the left faceoff circle and beat Hiller up high on his glove side for his fifth goal in the last eight games. Greene received a second assist on the play, matching his career high for assists and points in a game. The Kings shut down Anaheim on its only power play of the period, extending their streak of kills to 33 straight. Shortly afterward, it appeared the Ducks might get into intermission trailing by just two, but Corey Perry, who was a game-time decision after sitting out the last two games with a right shoulder injury, tripped over the right skate of teammate Sheldon Brookbank as he skated backward with the puck in his offensive zone. He fell hard on his back and lost the puck to Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, leading to a 2-on-1 with Justin Williams. Doughty smartly held the puck until the last season and then passed it to Williams on the opposite post and he tucked it in the net with 7.1 seconds left in the period.

The bad: About the only head-scratcher for the Kings is, where was this offense two months ago? Their playoff situation would be a lot more secure if they would have averaged more than two goals a game for the first two-thirds of the season.

The in between: Scoreboard watching here at Honda Center and it appears Pacific Division leader Dallas is on its way to losing against the Blackhawks. If that score holds up and the Kings win, they would be just three points back of the division lead. Calgary is also down by two goals midway through its game against the Oilers. The Flames are one of three teams the Kings need to pass to move back into the top eight. Unfortunately, a win tonight won’t get them there.

Ducks: Top line feasts in 4-2 victory vs. Blues

October, 16, 2011

ANAHEIM -- Maybe it was the broken sticks, or simply the breadsticks. Either way, the Ducks found a way to brush off several mini-slumps with one swipe of the hands by Corey Perry on Sunday night at Honda Center.

Perry scored Anaheim’s first power-play goal of the season early in the third period against the visiting St. Louis Blues, the winning goal in a 4-2 victory that pushed the Ducks record to 3-1, their best start since 2006.

The goal was Perry’s first point of the season, matching the longest he has ventured into the fall without hitting the score sheet. Teemu Selanne and Ryan Getzlaf also assisted on the play for their first points of the season.

The goal was made easier when St. Louis forwards Patrik Berglund and Alexander Steen were forced to kill the penalty empty handed after their sticks broke early in the power play.

The players quickly took advantage, as Getzlaf passed to Selanne down low and he sent a cross-pass through the crease to Perry, who redirected the puck into the net for a 3-1 lead at the 3:40 mark of the final period.

“We knew what was going on,” Perry said of the stick-less defenders. “That’s why we worked it up, we worked it around. They couldn’t get sticks in the lanes to block passes, so we had an advantage.”

Bobby Ryan contributed two goals and an assist and may have helped unlock the top line in another way, suggesting Getzlaf and Perry accompany him to an Italian restaurant earlier Sunday, where they indulged in breadsticks, a bona fide slump buster, according to Ryan.

“Breadsticks are key, that’s right,” Ryan said with a laugh.

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Ducks: Season Preview (Act IV)

October, 5, 2011
Francois BeaucheminJason O. Watson/US PresswireThe Ducks hope defenseman Francois Beauchemin rediscovers the form that helped contribute to the Ducks' Stanley Cup victory.
Each day heading into their season openers Friday in Europe, ESPNLosAngeles has taken a closer look at the Ducks and Kings. What are their strengths, their weaknesses? Which defensemen has the most to prove, and which will continue to shine? We put the Ducks back under the microscope one last time and attempt to answer a few key questions regarding their defense.

Defenseman with the most to prove this season? All was dandy during the first stint in Anaheim for Francois Beauchemin. He helped the Ducks win the Stanley Cup title in his second season and shined while playing alongside future Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer. Beauchemin moved on to the Toronto Maple Leafs following the 2008-09 season and then was returned to Anaheim at last February’s trade deadline. He clearly was not the same player. Beauchemin continued to chew up minutes but wasn’t nearly as sharp with his decision making or puck-moving skills, and the Ducks paid the price on several occasions. Entering the final season of a three-year deal that will pay him $3.65 million, it’s time to put up or pack your bags for the 31-year-old Beauchemin, who could be gone as early as this season's trade deadline if he doesn’t show some resemblance of his former self.

Defenseman with the least to prove? Though he’s four years older than Beauchemin, fellow blue-liner Lubomir Visnovsky showed no signs of slowing down last season. In fact, he had the best run of his 10-year career, setting a franchise record for goals by a defenseman with 18. He also led all NHL defensemen with 50 assists and was a career-high plus-18 on the ice. The power-play specialist led the team in on-ice minutes and even became the first Ducks defensemen in franchise history to record a hat trick. As you might expect, Visnovsky received plenty of votes for Norris Trophy consideration. After qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since he was a member of the Kings in 2002, look for Visnovsky to put the power play back on his shoulders and attempt to lift the Ducks into the postseason for a second consecutive year.

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Ducks hope for more luck in the draft

June, 23, 2011
Few could have predicted last season’s rapid returns.

Holding the No. 12 overall pick in the NHL draft a year ago, the Ducks certainly didn’t expect to land a player who would make the opening-day roster, much less stick around to play 76 regular-season games and six more in the playoffs.

But that very well could’ve been their biggest score last season, somehow ending up with Cam Fowler in their lap.

The offense-minded defenseman turned out to be just the right addition for a team trying to fill the massive hole left at the blue line following the offseason retirement of Scott Niedermayer. Fowler helped lessen the sting, finishing with 11 goals and 33 assists, the latter a club record for a rookie.

A year later, the Ducks are hoping to catch another fallen star, this time with the 22nd overall pick in Friday’s first round, which will be held at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

The possibilities are long and varied.

Will the organization look to further bolster its defensive corps? Not only does the back end still need to recoup some of its losses following Niedermayer’s retirement, but fellow blue-liners Lubomir Visnovsky and Francois Beauchemin are also on the down sides of their careers and getting them through another season unscathed seems more and more of a challenge.

Or does the front office go fishing for a future top six forward, especially with Teemu Selanne just days away from his 41st birthday and still undecided about his plans for next season?

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Ducks: Looking ahead to the offseason

April, 27, 2011
As the Ducks tie the bow on an entertaining but somewhat unfulfilled 2010-11 season, they face another summer of the unknown. One area of uncertainty has become an annual ritual in Anaheim’s front office, while the other is stumbling block they’ve never encountered before.

Here’s a closer look at the key areas that need to be addressed in the offseason, and the ones that seem fine the way they are.

Teemu SelanneJeff Gross/Getty ImagesWho knows, right? Teemu Selanne could retire and un-retire three times before the All-Star break.
I. Will he or won’t he?

Teemu Selanne heads off on his summer retreat with another heavy decision on his mind. Selanne will turn 41 on July 3, but was the spriest and most productive player on the Ducks during their six-game loss to Nashville in the Western Conference quarterfinals.

After an 80-point regular season, Selanne scored a career-best six goals during the Nashville series and delivered a flat-on-his back assist late in Game 5 that provided the final roar of the season at Honda Center. He showed plenty of durability during his 19th season in the NHL and, most importantly, said he particularly enjoyed the experience.

Selanne will be an unrestricted free agent July 1 but it’s very doubtful he’d return anywhere else but Anaheim, where he has spent the last six seasons and 11 overall. The Ducks have made it clear they want him back for another year as well.

But just like his play on the ice, oftentimes Selanne doesn’t really know his next move. He just lets his instincts take over.

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Third line brings some charm to the Ducks

April, 16, 2011

ANAHEIM — Before the start of the Western Conference quarterfinal series, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle talked about the importance of his role players stepping up against Nashville.

For about 60 seconds Friday night in Game 2 at Honda Center, the third line of Brandon McMillan, Matt Beleskey and Nick Bonino did just that, dominating the Predators in the offensive zone to set up a key goal in the 5-3 victory, tying the series at 1-1.

After cycling the puck and pounding away at Nashville’s top defense pairing of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, the Predators couldn’t get off the ice fast enough to get some fresh bodies in the game.

They didn’t get on quick enough, as Francois Beauchemin passed the puck up to Ryan Getzlaf who was camped out at the blue line. Getzlaf fired a shot at Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne who made the stop, but Bobby Ryan was in position to send the rebound into the net for a 3-1 lead.

It was the first even-strength goal allowed by the Predators in the series and seemed to deflate them less than three minutes after they had cut the deficit to one.

“It was a heck of a shift by three young guys,” Ryan said. “They controlled the pace of the play right through that entire shift. ... They were so tired, five guys had to change. One guy was left out there. It was kind of a freebie for me. I’ll take it.”

McMillan and Beleskey said Carlyle called for his third line when Weber and Suter jumped on the ice.

“We just wanted to wear those guys down so the big guys would have a little more room up there,” Beleskey said. “That’s what we need to do and it looked like it helped them. If we’re cycling and wearing guys down, it’s creating momentum and it’s creating offense for our team. It’s a big part of our game.”

Beleskey is just 22 years old, McMillan is 21 and Bonino will turn 23 next week. Bonino was making his Stanley Cup playoff debut, while Beleskey and McMillan made theirs in Game 1. For Beleskey, his first playoff game wasn’t that memorable, as he committed two penalties in the opening eight minutes, leading to a power-play goal by the Predators in their 4-1 victory.

“We didn’t play them a tremendous amount, but we played them enough that they got a taste of playoff hockey,” Carlyle said. “I thought they did a heck of job for us.”

Ducks: Getzlaf, Ryan give Anaheim 4-1 lead

April, 15, 2011
Western Conference quarterfinal

Game 2

After the 2nd period:

Ducks 4, Nashville Predators 1

The good: First of all, Ducks defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky returned at the start of the period after leaving in the first following a collision with teammate Francois Beauchemin. The Ducks gave up a power-play goal to get their lead trimmed to one, but a great shift by the third line of Matt Beleskey, Brandon McMillan and Nick Bonino wore out Nashville and the Ducks caught them on a line change. Beauchemin passed the puck up to Ryan Getzlaf who was standing at the blue line near the wall opposite the benches. He shot the puck at Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne as Bobby Ryan cut to the net. Rinne made the initial save but Ryan pounced on the rebound and put it in the net for a 3-1 lead 7:12 into the period. Getzlaf then got into the act, jumping on a loose puck in front of the Nashville net and firing it past Rinne for a 4-1 lead with 4:06 left. Rinne hasn’t allowed more than four goals in a game since November. Can’t move on without mentioning Ducks goalie Ray Emery, who made his first start since April 6, when he left midway through a 6-2 victory against San Jose with a lower-body injury. Emery has stopped 24 shots, including a handful that were jaw-dropping efforts.

The bad: Ducks enforcer George Parros let his anger get the best of him early in the period after he was taken down by Jerred Smithson in front of the Nashville bench. He went after Smithson, even though it appeared Smithson wanted nothing to do with him. Parros earned a four-minute roughing penalty, while Smithson was given just two minutes, and the Predators promptly scored to cut the deficit to 2-1 with 15 minutes left in the period.

The in between: Looking ahead to the next round, it appears top-seeded Vancouver won’t have any trouble advancing past Chicago in their quarterfinal. The Canucks just went up, 2-0, in the series against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Ducks: Anaheim leads, 2-0, on power-play goals

April, 15, 2011
Western Conference quarterfinal

Game 2

After the 1st period:

Ducks 2, Nashville Predators 0

The good: The Ducks scored twice in the first six minutes to give them a nice cushion. Both goals came on the power play. The first came with a two-man advantage after Martin Erat and Shane O’Brien went to the penalty box 48 seconds apart. The Ducks remained patient until Saku Koivu found an opening to slide the puck across to Corey Perry, who slammed the puck past Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne with seven seconds left on the two-man advantage. Thirty-eight seconds later, Ducks rookie defenseman Cam Fowler sent a blast toward Rinne, but it clipped the skate of Nashville defenseman Jonathon Blum and caromed straight out to Teemu Selanne, who stuffed it into the goal for a 2-0 lead. The Ducks came out firing, taking 10 shots on goal in the first eight minutes.

The bad: Ducks defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky had to be helped off the ice after colliding with teammate Francois Beauchemin at center ice during a power play with 4:01 left in the period. Visnovsky would be a big loss for the Ducks. He led all NHL defensemen with 68 points this season.

The in between: After peppering Rinne with 10 shots in the first eight minutes, the Ducks took just two the rest of the way.

Ducks: Pieces in place for Game 2

April, 15, 2011
Western Conference quarterfinals

Game 2

Ducks (0-1) vs. Nashville Predators (1-0) at Honda Center, 7:30 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. Emery is the manRay Emery got the nod to start in goal following the morning skate.'He missed the final two regular season games and did not start the playoff opener due to a lower-body injury. He replaced Dan Ellis early in the third period Wednesday night after Ellis allowed four goals on 24 shots in the 4-1 loss. The last time Emery replaced Ellis and went on to start the next game, he won six in a row. The Ducks could sure use another streak like that.

2. Rush hour – Leading up to Game 1, the Ducks talked a lot about getting traffic in front of the net to screen Pekka Rinne's view as pucks sailed toward him at 120 mph. Turns out, the only goalie they screened was Ellis. Rinne, second in the league during the regular season in save percentage and third in goals-against average, said after the game he had no problem seeing the pucks. Ellis, on the other hand, said three of the goals by Nashville were the result of screens or deflections.

3. Depth decisions – Ducks coach Randy Carlyle might think twice when he pencils in his lineup tonight. He stayed with left wing Matt Beleskey for the opener but Beleskey was whistled for two penalties in the opening eight minutes. The first led to a power play goal by Nashville and a 1-0 lead, which turned out to be the winner. Carlyle could try scrapper Kyle Chipchura, or a more-skilled option in Nick Bonino, who played 26 games for the Ducks this season before he was assigned to the AHL and recalled for the playoffs.

4. Ground Hog’s DayCorey Perry may want to request that the Ducks not host Nashville on a Wednesday night next season. The team’s leading scorer produced similar numbers to a Wednesday night in early January, when Anaheim lost to the visiting Predators by the same 4-1 score. Perry, who led the league with 50 goals this season, finished with no points in Game 1 for just the second time in the last 13 games, four shots on goal and a minus-three rating. In the loss in January, he finished with no points, five shots on goal and a minus-three rating.

5. More injury news– Along with Emery, it appears defenseman Francois Beauchemin is good to go after missing Thursday’s practice with a lower-body ailment that has been nagging him a while, Carlyle said. Beauchemin played his usual minutes in Game 1 but, like most of his teammates, didn’t have an impact. Though he hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations he set as a member of the Ducks during their Stanley Cup championship run in 2006-07, his experience in playoff games is a big plus. It was pretty obvious during Wednesday’s game that Anaheim rookie defenseman Cam Fowler was struggling with puck management, which could be the result of the postseason nerves.

Nashville scores twice in 2nd for 3-0 lead

April, 13, 2011
After the 2nd period:

Nashville Predators 3, Ducks 0

The good: Corey Perry returned for the second period after heading to the locker room late in the first with what appeared to be a right arm injury. That’s about it for the good news. The Ducks were booed off the ice as Perry had to be restrained from going after Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne, who is frustrating Perry and the rest of the Ducks with his stellar play. At least Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin has elevated his game for the playoffs, blocking a team-high six shots and equaling the team lead with three hits.

The bad: With the Ducks already down two healthy goalies, Dan Ellis could end up with a case of whiplash if he lets any more goals sail by. The Predators scored twice in the final five minutes of the period, giving them a nearly insurmountable three-goal lead the way Rinne is playing. Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler is playing like a 19-year-old rookie appearing in his first NHL playoff game, rather than the wunderkind he has been most of the season. Every time the puck leaves Fowler's stick, it seems to find a Nashville player. He has no shots and a team-high three giveaways. Ducks top-line center Ryan Getzlaf has one shot on goal and lost five of six face offs.

The in between: Perry was a welcome return in the second period, but he and Saku Koivu were the only Ducks on the ice for both Nashville goals.

Ducks: Nashville has an edge in net

April, 13, 2011
Western Conference Quarterfinal

Game 1

Ducks vs. Nashville Predators at Honda Center, 7:30 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. Ellis to start? With vertigo-like symptoms still affecting Jonas Hiller and Ray Emery slow to return from a lower-body injury, Dan Ellis was the first goalkeeper off the ice at Wednesday's morning skate, a good indication he'll start against the Predators. Ellis was sharp last week, stopping 80 of 83 shots in two victories against the Kings and a relief appearance against San Jose after Emery departed midway through the second period. Ellis’ only other postseason experience came with Nashville in 2008, when he played all six games in an opening-series loss to Detroit. The following season he was beat out for the starting job by Pekka Rinne, the starting goalkeeper for the Predators tonight.

2. Rinne is a winner: Getting the puck past Rinne is no easy task. He was second in the league in save percentage (.930) and third in goals-against average (2.12), and has been especially tough on the Ducks in his career. “Their goaltending is the biggest reason they are where they are,” said Anaheim forward Teemu Selanne. The Predators monitored Rinne’s regular-season workload in hopes of having him fresher for the playoff run. Look for the Ducks to attempt to impede Rinne’s vision by getting their big bodies in front of the net.

3. Scoring machine: Corey Perry has led the NHL in goals, tied for the league lead in game-winning goals (11) and was third in points (98). Probably most telling of his value is his league-leading 21 third-period goals. No other NHL player had more than 18.

4. Extra special teams: Games are won and lost on the power play and that’s especially true in the postseason. Nashville is abysmal on the power play but pretty good at killing them off. The Predators were fifth-best in the regular season on the penalty kill and did not allow a man-advantage goal in their last six games. Against the Ducks this season, Nashville killed 14 of 17 penalties. The Ducks, meanwhile, had the third-most efficient power play during the regular season and were especially hot down the stretch, scoring 16 power-play goals in the last 11 games.

5. Been there, done that: One area in which the Ducks own a decisive edge is playoff experience. Perry, Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf, Francois Beauchemin, Todd Marchant and George Parros were each members of the Anaheim team that won the 2007 Stanley Cup title. “When you prepare a team for the playoffs, that’s one of your strengths,” said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “You have younger players who have competed in numerous playoff series and intense ones, and they should be able to transfer some of their knowledge and experience onto the younger players.”

Kings get one back but still trail Ducks

April, 9, 2011
After the 2nd period:

Ducks 3, Kings 1

The good: THE KINGS SCORED A POWER-PLAY GOAL!! After failing to score on 22 consecutive power plays, they came through with 1:36 left. While Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman was in the box for holding, Kings forward Ryan Smyth sent an off-speed shot at Anaheim goalie Dan Ellis. The slow speed seemed to catch Ellis off guard. He deflected the puck off the cross bar, which then carrommed off his back, sending it across the goal line. Other than that, not much to cheer about on Fan Appreciation Day at Staples Center. At least the Kings secured their playoff spot last Saturday because if they had to get in tonight, they would be in trouble. Even with the late goal, this performance might be even worse than that of the Hurricanes earlier today. Carolina needed a win over Tampa Bay to secure the No. 8 seeding in the East but lost, 6-2, on its home ice, handing the New York Rangers the playoff spot. At least New Yorkers get to see some playoff hockey this season. California will have three teams in the playoffs, more than Canada (two).

The bad: Sixteen seconds after the best scoring opportunity to that point of the game, the Kings fell behind by three goals. Dustin Brown stole a pass from Teemu Selanne while teammate Kevin Westgarth was serving a two-minor minor for roughing. Brown went one-on-one with Ellis but he didn’t bite on Brown's fake and scooted the puck aside. Anaheim then re-set its power play and Francois Beauchemin sent a blast from the point through the legs of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick for a 3-0 lead with nearly 11 minutes left in the period. Quick gave up three goals on the first 12 shots, not a good percentage for a playoff goalie.

The in between: San Jose scored twice in the second period against visiting Phoenix to take a 2-0 lead. If that lead holds up and the Ducks maintain their advantage, the Ducks will finish fourth in the West and earn home ice for the first round of the playoffs beginning Wednesday or Thursday at Honda Center. The Kings would be looking at the No. 8 seeding if Chicago beats Detroit on Sunday morning, meaning they’d open in Vancouver, or a No. 7 seeding if Detroit wins, sending them on their way to San Jose for their playoff opener.

Kings' power play woes continue

April, 9, 2011
After the first period:

Ducks 2, Kings 0

The good: Nashville lost to St. Louis earlier today, meaning the winner of this game will finish no lower than fifth in the Western Conference. If Phoenix loses to San Jose in a game that’s scoreless after the first period, the winner of this game will finish fourth and earn home-ice advantage for the first round. Unfortunately, that’s not looking like the Kings.

The bad: If the Kings continue to struggle with their power play, they’ll be lucky to win a playoff game. They were on the power play for six of the first nine minutes—including a four-minute stretch after forward Ryan Smyth was struck with a high stick from Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin—and couldn’t get the puck past third-string goalie Dan Ellis. Smyth basically spilt blood for nothing. The Kings are scoreless on their last 21 power plays, dating to when leading scorer Anze Kopitar suffered a season-ending ankle injury March 26 against Colorado. Their second power play resulted in just as many off-sides penalties (two) as shots on goal. They were then awarded a third power play with eight minutes left in the period but couldn’t get through that without getting called for too many men on the ice. While both teams were skating four-on-four, Ducks rookie forward Brandon McMillan batted his own rebound past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick with 6:33 left. The play was reviewed but held up for a 1-0 lead. If the Kings end up losing by a goal, that could be a key no-call, but it doesn’t appear they’ll stay that close. The Ducks finally got their own power play, which transitioned into a two-man advantage for 12 seconds. They showed the Kings how to take advantage of their opportunities, taking a 2-0 lead with 4:19 left on a no-look pass from Corey Perry that found the stick of Saku Koivu, who hit the open net.

The in between: It’s not as if the Kings aren’t trying. They took 15 shots on goal in the first 20 minutes, which is just three off their season-high for a period. They just don’t have the skill to match up with a team like Anaheim, especially without Kopitar and second-leading scorer Justin Williams, who may return in time for the first round.

Ducks: Perry doubles up on Calgary in 4-2 win

March, 30, 2011
Ducks 4, Calgary Flames 2

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: Corey Perry continued his red-hot pace, scoring two more goals Wednesday night at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary to lift the Ducks up another spot in the Western Conference standings.

THE STAT: Perry gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead during a first-period power play, deflecting Cam Fowler's slap shot into the net. Perry later scored into an empty net in the game’s final minute for his third two-goal game in the last four, extending his league-leading goal total to 46.

TURNING POINT: With just over five minutes remaining in the second period, the Flames appeared to tie the score when the puck bounced over the goal line as goalkeeper Ray Emery fell into the net during a scramble in the crease. The Calgary players immediately began to celebrate but the referee never signaled that a goal was scored. After a lengthy review, the call on the ice stood because replay officials in Toronto could not verify that the puck crossed the goal line. About three minutes later, Lubomir Visnovsky scored to give the Ducks a 3-1 lead.

HOT: Emery stopped 23 shots to improve to 6-0-0 since he was signed as a free agent in early February.

NOT: Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin had four of Anaheim’s 13 giveaways. He was also penalized for slashing Rene Bourque midway through the second period.

GOOD MOVE: After the Ducks fell behind, 1-0, Bobby Ryan knotted the score with a nifty move on a power play, circling from behind the net and stuffing the puck into the far side of the net.

BAD MOVE: Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman committed back-to-back third-period hooking penalties that gave the Flames some life. The first occurred when the Ducks were already a man down and gave Calgary a 5-on-3. Mark Giordano scored 13 seconds into the two-man advantage to cut the deficit to 3-2.

NOTABLE: Visnovsky’s goal was his 16thof the season, tying a 12-year-old club record for most goals by a defenseman. The Ducks moved into sixth place in the West and have a six-point lead over ninth-place Dallas with six games remaining.

UP NEXT: Saturday at San Jose, 7:30 p.m.

Ducks: Not just another must-win game

March, 30, 2011
Ducks (43-28-5, 91 points) vs. Calgary Flames (38-28-11, 87) at Scotiabank Saddledome, 6:30 p.m. PT.

Five storylines to track:

1. Bigger than big – OK, just so we’re clear. There are big games, like the last 30 or so, and there are exceptionally large games, like the one tonight in Calgary. With a regulation victory, the Ducks can climb one more rung in the ladder to sixth in the Western Conference standings with six games remaining. More importantly, they would get six points clear of ninth-place Dallas. Calgary, like the Stars, has 87 points but sits in 10th due to more games played.

2. Creating a buzz – Probably not surprising Teemu Selanne was trending on Twitter not long after posting his 22ndcareer hat trick Monday night in a 5-4 victory against the visiting Colorado Avalanche. Apparently, it’s not every day a 40-year-old scores three goals in an NHL game. The fact is, Selanne is helping the Ducks earn points like no other member of the team…well, maybe Corey Perry. If he continues this torrid pace, get ready to hear a lot more about the Finnish Flash.

3. Diamond in the rough – Another player whose stellar play has been buried beneath the Selanne headlines is goalkeeper Ray Emery. With the win against the Avalanche, he remained undefeated in five starts since joining Anaheim as a free agent in early February, basically as an insurance policy while starter Jonas Hiller deals with vertigo-like symptoms. Emery is turning into a great comeback story himself, battling back from hip surgery that kept him out of the NHL for more than a year and threatened to end his career.

4. Have you seen me? – It’s safe to say the Ducks probably thought they’d get more out of defenseman Francois Beauchemin when they traded for him back in early February. But he clearly isn’t the same player that helped the Ducks win the Stanley Cup title in 2007 before playing the last 1 seasons in Toronto. Beauchemin is minus-five in his last five games and has just two goals and two assists in the 21 games since joining Anaheim.

5. Flame that got away – The Flames haven’t played since rallying from a 4-1 third-period deficit Saturday against Edmonton to win in a shootout, 5-4. Curtis Glencross scored his 23rdgoal of the season in the comeback, further adding to his breakout season. Glencross signed his first professional contract with the Ducks and played two games with the club during the Stanley Cup championship season before he was traded to Columbus for two players who never made a dent in the NHL and a fourth-round draft pick.