Los Angeles Hockey: Lubomir Visnovsky

Kings: Great start, better finish in 4-2 win vs. Ducks

March, 16, 2012
3/16/12
11:54
PM PT


ANAHEIM -- It may have taken three-fourths of the season, but the Kings are finally playing well from start to finish.

They scored three goals in the opening period Friday night against the Ducks and held on to win their third straight game, 4-2, at Honda Center, keeping them in the thick of the six-team race for the final three playoff spots in the Western Conference.

“Our starts have been excellent,” said Justin Williams, who scored the final goal of the opening period with 7.1 seconds remaining. "Although we’ve kind of made them interesting a little bit of late, we’ve still been able to close them out, so I think our starts have been a real key to our success."

They couldn’t say that before acquiring Jeff Carter in a trade Feb. 23. In fact, they were by far the lowest-scoring first-period team in the NHL at that point.

In the 10 games since Carter arrived from the Columbus Blue Jackets, however, the Kings have outscored their opponents, 17-6, in the opening period. In the previous 61 games, they managed just 28 first-period goals. They've since moved from 30th in the league in first-period scoring to 28th.

“It certainly helps to get your legs underneath you,” said Anze Kopitar, who also scored in the opening 20 minutes.

Carter didn’t score against the Ducks, but seems to be attracting enough attention that others are getting more scoring opportunities.

Alec Martinez gave the Kings a 1-0 lead just 2:40 into the game when he fluttered a point shot through traffic and into the net. Kopitar then scored at the 9:33 mark when he made a nice move around former teammate Lubomir Visnovsky and made an even better shot into the top left corner.

Williams finished off the first-period scoring when a turnover by Corey Perry turned into a 2-on-1 with he and Drew Doughty.

(Read full post)

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

March, 16, 2012
3/16/12
8:04
PM PT
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.

Stars 3, Ducks 1: By the numbers

October, 22, 2011
10/22/11
1:11
AM PT
1 -- Number of shots it took the Stars to score their first goal of the night. Loui Eriksson lit the lamp for the fourth time this season to give Dallas the early advantage.

13 -- Number of seconds into the game it took for Eriksson to beat Jonas Hiller. Ducks’ captain Ryan Getzlaf said, “We came out pretty flat. You can’t do that against a good hockey club and it obviously cost us tonight.”

2 -- Number of goals for Eriksson on the night, resulting in his 17th-career multi-goal game.

3 -- Game goal-scoring streak by Ducks right wing Corey Perry, who potted 50 last season to lead the NHL. Perry failed to tally in the team’s first three contests this season.

.1 -- Seconds left in the 2nd period when Perry lit the lamp. The Ducks’ lone goal came on the power play. Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said, “I really felt when we go back to 2-1 that we’d be okay for the third period. Then, they scored early in the third period and we didn’t have much left.”

4 -- Game-winning streak the Ducks saw come to an end.

5 -- Game-winning streak for the Stars, who lead the Pacific Division with a 6-1-0 record.

6 -- Game winning streak for Stars’ goaltender Kari Lehtonen. Dallas’ only loss this season came with Andrew Raycroft in net.

17 -- Number of opponents’ power plays the Ducks have killed on home ice. Anaheim has yet to allow a goal in a shorthanded situation this season.

36 -- Shots on goal for the Ducks, compared to just 19 for the Stars. Carlyle said, “We were very flat for the better part of the hockey game. When we did have our chances, it seemed like we were miscuing.”

0 -- Number of goals for Ducks’ defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who led all blueliners in scoring last season with 58 points. Visnovsky has just two assists through his first six games.

Ducks 2, New York Rangers 1 (SO)

October, 8, 2011
10/08/11
2:01
PM PT
Ducks 2, New York Rangers 1 (SO)

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: Bobby Ryan scored the only goal of the shootout, putting an off-speed shot high into the corner of the net against goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist, lifting the Ducks to their first victory of the season Saturday night at Ericcson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden.

THE STAT: Ducks goalkeeper Jonas Hiller faced only 15 shots against the Rangers, stopping 14. He also saved two attempts in the shootout.

TURNING POINT: The Ducks took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period with some strong forechecking by their third line. Andrew Gordon dumped the puck into the New York zone and fellow rookie Devante Smith-Pelly jarred it loose along the boards. Gordon collected the loose puck and passed in front of the net, where Andrew Cogliano was in position to poke it past the goal line.

HOT: Luca Sbisa also had a solid all-around game for the defense, delivering four hits, blocking two shots and accounting for a takeaway. Fellow defenseman Cam Fowler played a team-high 28 minutes 38 seconds and blocked six shots.

NOT: Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf continue to be in training camp mode. The high-scoring forwards are still looking for their first points of the season. They went scoreless against the Rangers, yet combined for two trips to the penalty box. Good thing the youngsters have been stepping up for the Ducks

GOOD MOVE: Ducks coach Randy Carlyle has been showing a lot of confidence in his young players. Smith-Pelly, Gordon and Guenin each played double digits in shifts against the Rangers and all three have a point through the first two games, unlike the top line of Perry, Getzlaf and Ryan.

BAD MOVE: Ducks defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky had the puck on his stick in his defensive zone but couldn’t clear it. Instead, it went to Ryan McDonagh at the blue line who found Brad Richards down low. Richards skated in and beat Hiller with a nifty shot high in the net with 2:15 remaining in regulation.

NOTABLE: The Ducks have allowed just 15 shots on goal in the last four periods.

UP NEXT: Friday vs. the San Jose Sharks at Honda Center, 7 p.m.

Ducks: Season Preview (Act IV)

October, 5, 2011
10/05/11
8:13
PM PT
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: Six answers after facing Canucks

September, 28, 2011
9/28/11
10:57
PM PT
Jonas HillerStephen Dunn/Getty ImagesDucks goalie Jonas Hiller, who sat out much of last season because of vertigo, had a solid outing against the Canucks in an exhibition game Wednesday.

ANAHEIM -- The who, what, when, where, which, and hows of the Ducks exhibition game Wednesday night against the visiting Vancouver Canucks at Honda Center.

Ducks 3, Canucks 2

Who scored for the Ducks? Somewhere between the meltdown by the Red Sox and the walk-off home run by Evan Longoria of Tampa Bay, the Ducks took their final lead lead on a power-play goal by defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky with just under 15 minutes remaining. Another defenseman, Cam Fowler, gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a nifty spin move around Mike Duco at the point and a close-range shot that caromed off the stick of Mark Mancari and into the net. Just over a minute later, Bobby Ryan made it 2-0 when he went end to end with the puck and beat Vancouver goalkeeper Roberto Luongo with a well-placed wrist shot from the slot.

When was the crowd most into the game? The final minutes of the first period were buzzing as the Ducks took the 2-0 lead, but the crowd was on the edge of their seats the final 2 minutes of the game, as the Ducks were forced to kill a 5-on-3 power play that lasted 57 seconds. The Ducks then had to finish off another two-man advantage down the stretch when Vancouver pulled Luongo, but Andrew Gordon made a great effort to clear the puck with about 25 seconds remaining and another rookie forward, Devante Smith-Pelly, broke up a pass in the defensive zone and cleared the puck just before the game clock expired.

Which player looked the best? Fowler, coming off a stellar rookie season, played like a fourth forward on the ice. His goal was a thing of beauty, as he made Duco look like the Statue of Liberty with his spin move, carried the puck to the bottom of the right face-off circle and enjoyed the benefit of a fortunate bounce. He also had the first assist on Visnovsky’s goal, sliding the puck over at just the right moment to give Visnovsky some open net. Fowler earned first star of the game and Ducks goalkeeper Jonas Hiller the second.

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Ducks hope for more luck in the draft

June, 23, 2011
6/23/11
4:22
PM PT
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
4/27/11
2:59
PM PT
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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Ducks: Teemu Selanne not showing his age, or cards

April, 26, 2011
4/26/11
2:38
PM PT
Two days after they were eliminated by the Predators in Game 6 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series in Nashville, the Ducks held their annual exit interviews Tuesday at Honda Center.

Would this be the last for Teemu Selanne?

Of course, when it comes to retirement, Selanne’s decisions tend to come with a grain of salt. He has un-retired more times than George Foreman, and sat on other decisions well into the next season.

This time around, he chose his words carefully in front of the gathered media.

“I'll let you know when I know something,” said Selanne, who will turn 41 on July 3. “I'll just wait and see how I feel. I don't have to rush."

It'd probably be an easier decision if Selanne didn’t have such a fabulous season, particularly down the stretch, lifting the Ducks into the postseason. He tied a franchise playoff record with six goals against Nashville and scored points in every game.

Her had 10 goals and six assists in the final 11 regular-season games, most coming at crucial moments, and finished with 31 goals and 80 points. Selanne will be an unrestricted free agent come July 1, but said he wouldn't play anywhere else but Anaheim.

“I've got to be honest, it was so much fun this year,” he said. “That's all you really ask for.”

His teammates noticed as well.

“I think [Selanne] had too much fun this year not to come back,” said Saku Koivu.

Ducks general manager Boy Murray also addressed the media and didn’t hide his intentions with Selanne.

“He's too good to quit,” he said. “I'll do everything in my power to keep him here.”

In other developments, defenseman Toni Lydman and forward Matt Beleskey are scheduled to undergo shoulder surgery Monday, according to Murray.

Lubomir Visnovsky, who broke a franchise record for goals by a defenseman but was not much of a factor in the playoffs, revealed he has been playing with two injured shoulders that prevented him from picking up his young son. He won’t need surgery, however.

Veteran forward Todd Marchant, who will turn 38 this summer, also said he plans to contemplate his retirement plans after speaking with his family.

Ray Emery talked about his whirlwind season.

After sitting out a full year following hip surgery, Emery was signed as insurance when No. 1 goalkeeper Jonas Hiller began experiencing vertigo-like symptoms following the All-Star break. Emery ended up winning a starting role as Hiller’s symptoms lingered and other back ups struggled. He came back from a groin injury late in the regular season and started the last five playoff games.

He woke up Tuesday to learn he had been nominated as a finalist for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which goes to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”

“It's a nice acknowledgment,” he said.

Emery, who will be an unrestricted free agent July 1, said he’d like to return to Anaheim but recognizes the uncertainty with Hiller.

“It’s kind of up in the air, as far as what’s going on here with goaltending,” he said.

Murray called Hiller’s situation one of the big question marks of the offseason.

The other, of course, being Selanne.

Ducks: Top 10 moments of 2010-11

April, 25, 2011
4/25/11
4:37
PM PT
Drum roll, please...

10. Hiller’s heroics: Ducks goalkeeper Jonas Hiller stopped 39 shots Jan. 2 against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, including 19 in the third period, leading his team to a 2-1 victory at Honda Center. It was that type of performance the Ducks sorely missed during the postseason, as Hiller sat out all but three games following his first All-Star appearance with vertigo symptoms.

9. Fine debut: In his first NHL appearance, Kyle Palmieri notched the tying goal late in the third period Nov. 3 against visiting Tampa Bay, allowing Ryan Getzlaf to score in overtime and provide the Ducks a 3-2 victory that sparked a season-high six-game winning streak after a 4-7-1 start.

8. King-sized victory: The Kings stole all the headlines the first month of the season, getting off to a franchise-best 12-3 start, but entered their first meeting of the season against the Ducks having lost six of their last seven. Anaheim fans felt great pleasure watching Hiller stop 27 shots and shut out the Kings, 2-0, on Nov. 29, sending them spiraling back to Los Angeles.

7. Lubo makes history: Lubomir Visnovsky became the first defenseman in franchise history to record a hat trick on March 4. His final goal against visiting Dallas came with 3.8 seconds remaining in overtime and lifted the Ducks to a 4-3 victory. Teemu Selanne had tied the score for the Ducks with 1:03 remaining in regulation.

6. The Finnish(er): In a key game March 23 in Dallas, Selanne scored the tying goal with 5.2 seconds remaining in regulation, giving rookie defenseman Cam Fowler a chance to win it, 4-3, in overtime. Four times in the last two months of the regular season Selanne scored the tying goal in the final minutes of regulation and the Ducks won each in overtime, providing key points in their playoff drive. The Stars, meanwhile, missed the playoffs by two points.

(Read full post)

Ducks: Getzlaf, Ryan give Anaheim 4-1 lead

April, 15, 2011
4/15/11
9:35
PM PT
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
4/15/11
8:37
PM PT
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: Gap tightens in West in time for Sharks visit

April, 5, 2011
4/05/11
11:45
PM PT
Ducks (44-30-5, 93 points) vs. San Jose Sharks (47-23-9, 103) at Honda Center, 7 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. One that got away? – The Ducks would sure like another shot at the Stars right about now. They had a chance to clinch a playoff berth Sunday with a regulation victory against Dallas but instead lost 4-3 after a pair of goals were disallowed in the final two minutes. Dallas won again Tuesday against Columbus to pull to within two points of the Ducks and now have three remaining games against non-playoff qualifiers, two against Colorado and one against Minnesota. The Ducks, meanwhile, face a tough game against the Sharks and back-to-back weekend games against the Kings.



2. Payback game – It was just four days earlier the Ducks played in San Jose and lost, 4-2. In the third period of that game, San Jose defenseman Douglas Murray took a run at Ducks defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky and drove him into the boards. Visnovsky, who had set a franchise record for goals by a defensemen earlier in the game, left with an upper-body injury and did not return. Murray was not penalized for the hit but drew the ire of the Ducks, who likely haven’t forgotten. The Ducks can’t lose their focus and go head-hunting for Murray, however. There’s still a very important game to win.

3. Selanne silenced – Just how hot has Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne been the last few months? Selanne has gone the last two games without a point, the first time he has gone two straight without joining the scoring column since Jan. 18-20. Selanne had a goal disallowed down the stretch Sunday against Dallas, and he didn’t take it too well, avoiding the media following the game for one of the few times in his career. Look for him to bounce back big against the Sharks.

4. Third-line fodder – The Ducks recalled left wing Matt Beleskey from Syracuse on March 25 and he has played in all four games since. Beleskey hasn’t done much, however, going scoreless with a minus-four rating in those games. The Ducks like Beleskey’s bigger body compared to Dan Sexton, but Sexton gives the third line a lot more speed, and he seems a better fit with center Brandon McMillen. Might be time for Beleskey to watch from the press box and give Sexton a turn.

5. Shark feast – The Sharks have been the best team in the NHL since mid-January, owning a 26-4-4 record in that time. They clinched the Pacific Division title Monday with a 6-1 rout against the Kings, but are still in a battle with Detroit for the No. 2 seed and home-ice advantage should San Jose advance past the first round. Of course, the Sharks have won six division titles in the last 10 years but never a Western Conference title, so they can't take anything for granted.

Ducks: Two good reasons to beat the Stars

April, 3, 2011
4/03/11
2:13
PM PT
Ducks (44-29-5, 93 points) vs. Dallas Stars (38-28-11, 87) at Honda Center, 5 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. It’s about time: Since the Ducks were founded before the 1993-94 season, they've never qualified for the playoffs in the same year as the Kings, but both can clinch postseason berths tonight with a regulation victory by seventh-place Anaheim. The eighth-place Blackhawks (92 points) and ninth-place Flames (89 points) also play this afternoon, so a loss by the Ducks and victories by their closest pursuers will make for an interesting final week of the regular season.

2. Where’s Lubo? Ducks defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky left Saturday night’s game in San Jose with an upper-body injury. It appeared his was favoring his right shoulder after getting checked into the boards by big-bodied Douglas Murray with about eight minutes left in the 4-2 loss. The Ducks can ill afford to lose Visnovsky, who scored his 17th goal of the season earlier in the San Jose game to set a franchise record for goals by a defenseman.

3. Close calls: The Ducks and Stars will be meeting for the third time in less than a month and little has separated the teams in the previous two games. Visnovsky ended the first by scoring an overtime goal with just four seconds left after Teemu Selanne had tied it with just over a minute left in regulation. Cam Fowler won the second game in overtime after Selanne tied it with seven seconds left in regulation.

4. Emery honored: Ducks goalkeeper Ray Emery is coming off his first loss in an Anaheim uniform but against the Sharks he was mostly hung out to dry by his defensive unit. Emery won his first six games as a starter for the Ducks, earning a nomination for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is annually presented to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. The winner will be selected at the end of the regular season.

5. Falling Stars: It was just four weeks ago that the Stars were defeating the Kings, 4-3, in overtime at Staples Center to conclude a four-game trip with a 3-0-1 record and move into fifth in the Western Conference standings. The Stars have since gone 2-5-4 to fall into 10th in the West. They are 0-3-1 heading into the final game of their season-long five-game road trip. The good news is Brad Richards finally scored a goal Saturday afternoon, ending a seven-game goal-less streak.

Ducks: Sharks rally to win, Visnovsky hurt

April, 2, 2011
4/02/11
11:03
PM PT
San Jose Sharks 4, Ducks 2

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: The Ducks let a two-goal lead slip away Saturday night at HP Pavilion in San Jose, but can still clinch a playoff berth Sunday evening with a regulation win against the visiting Dallas Stars at Honda Center.

THE STAT: Lubomir Visnovsky scored his 17thgoal of the season in the first period to give the Ducks a 2-0 lead and set a franchise record for goals by a Ducks defenseman, but he later left with just over eight minutes left after absorbing a hard check by Douglas Murray of the Sharks. Visnovsky has emerged this season as a candidate for the Norris Trophy, which goes to the league's top defenseman.




TURNING POINT: Less than two minutes after Visnovsky headed to the locker room because of an unknown injury, the Sharks went on the power play when Jason Blake was whistled for holding Ryane Clowe. A minute later, Devin Setoguchi scored on a slap shot from 40 feet to give San Jose a 3-2 lead.

HOT: Corey Perry assisted on both goals by the Ducks, giving him 16 points in his eight-game point streak. He made a highlight-reel pass to Bobby Ryan for the first goal of the game, then helped set up Visnovsky for his power-play goal.

NOT: Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman came in leading the NHL with a plus-minus rating of plus-33, but he was minus-two against the Sharks, which will drop him behind Zdeno Chara of the Bruins (plus-32).

GOOD MOVE: Ryan was questionable before the game after taking a knee-to-knee hit from Calgary defenseman Mark Giordano in the Ducks’ victory Wednesday night, but he showed up to work Saturday night and scored his 34th goal of the season.

BAD MOVE: San Jose coach Todd McLellen matched Dan Boyle and Murray against the Teemu Selanne line early on and they were no match for their speed and creativity. Boyle and Murray did combine for three assists later in the game.

NOTABLE: The Ducks can not only clinch a playoff berth for themselves Sunday against the Stars, but for the Los Angeles Kings as well.

UP NEXT: Sunday vs. Dallas Stars at Honda Center, 5 p.m.

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