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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 8:27 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Ducks fly to Scandinavia

Ducks ready to finally get back to playing

HELSINKI -- The Anaheim Ducks know they're going to have a lot of people in the audience cheering for them here at Hartwall Areena, and the Buffalo Sabres know this is going to be like a road game when the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere games start Friday (1 p.m. ET, TSN2).

The Sabres technically will be the home team, but expect a couple of Anaheim's players to receive the loudest cheers.

"I don't know why we're not -- we should be the home team," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said with a laugh. "We have more Finns than they do. It doesn't make sense that we're not the home team. Maybe we should write a letter."

In more serious business, it is time for just that for the Ducks. They have been in Helsinki for five days, and have been feted by fans from Helsinki and Anaheim alike.

Now it is time for the NHL regular season to start, and Friday's game counts just as much as one in Los Angeles or San Jose will in November or March.

"It is a little different because we're here in Finland playing the Buffalo Sabres," Carlyle said. "We've been here close to a week and we've enjoyed the country. They've opened up their arms and done everything possible to make it comfortable for us. It is an exciting time for Finnish players playing in their homeland and it is an exciting time for all of our players to finally get to play games. You can play all the exhibition games you want and have all the practices you want, but nothing compares to playing in an NHL game and that starts tomorrow night for us.

"We're putting it on the line -- these are points for the season. Points in October are much easier to get than they are in March. You look at the playoff races -- take last year for instance -- we had 99 points and we only made the playoffs by three. It is competitive. It is also like you're looking at getting 100 points to qualify for the playoffs and that is tough."

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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 8:16 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - The Sabres take Germany

Day of celebration for Sabres

HELSINKI -- The Buffalo Sabres finished practice Thursday morning at Hartwall Areena with a bit of Finnish.

Coach Lindy Ruff called the team together at center ice, and the team sang "Happy Birthday" (in English) to Tyler Ennis, who turns 22 years old today. After that, they broke into small groups for post-practice stuff, but then Ruff was alerted it also was Ville Leino's birthday.

So the coach called everyone back together for another round of "Happy Birthday" -- only this time assistant coach Teppo Numminen led the club in the Finnish version of the tune in honor of Leino's 28th birthday.

"We didn't realize it was Ville's birthday, too," Ruff said. "We sang that one in Finnish, and I don't know how that one turned out. I sort of hummed along. Teppo could have had us singing anything. I didn't really know -- it could have been a setup."

Coming together was a popular topic after practice Thursday. This is the first European trip for the Sabres since the NHL starting doing it annually a few years ago, and Ruff and the players talked about the positives they have observed from making the trek.

The Sabres have a few key new players to incorporate to the team, Leino and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff among them, and they have had a chance to be like ambassadors for their new teammates when the club has spent time in their respective home countries.

"I thought the visit we had to the hospital (Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany) was a bit of an eye opener for some of us," Ruff said. "Getting to have the team meals, all the different functions together, we'll have another team meal tonight -- all of that brings the team to closer."

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.05.2011 / 1:17 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - The Sabres take Germany

Sabres prepared to be true road team

HELSINKI -- When the Anaheim Ducks scored goals against Jokerit in Tuesday's preseason game at Hartwall Areena, fans of the local club cheered.

Sure, they rooted for their team when the game was close, and there was an audible sigh when Ryan Getzlaf scored in overtime, but early in the game, when Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne where setting up Corey Perry for goals, the game might as well have been in Honda Center. If that was the atmosphere when the Ducks were facing Jokerit, it is fair to say the Buffalo Sabres are going to be facing a partisan crowd Friday in the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere (1 p.m. ET, TSN2).

"Yeah, that part is going to be interesting," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "I have so much respect for Teemu. There's not many players who could do what he's done and play at the level he is playing at right now at that age. He'll always be known as a tremendous goal scorer. … If I were a fan in Finland, I'd be here cheering for him, too. I think that part is tremendous."

The Sabres arrived in Helsinki Wednesday afternoon after a long travel day from Germany, but like the Ducks did Sunday, they went straight from the airport to the rink for practice. Buffalo defeated Adler Mannheim Tuesday in its final preseason game, and now the focus has shifted to Friday's opener.

While the Ducks have been here all week and the players have had the chance to see the city and explore the culture, the Sabres only will be here for a little more than 48 hours before the puck drops Friday.

"I think in terms of travel and playing, we're all used to that," Buffalo forward Nathan Gerbe said. "We always play, travel, play, travel. ... I think we just try to take the same way. We want to gear up. The preseason is over and training camp is over. Now it is the real thing."

Friday's game may feel a little like a trip to TD Garden or Bell Centre for the Sabres, though they'll likely have a bit of a home-ice advantage Saturday in Berlin against the Los Angeles Kings (2 p.m. ET, TSN2).

"That's pretty cool," Gerbe said when told the Helsinki fans were cheering Ducks' goals. "It was a lot of fun playing in Germany (on Tuesday). It was a great crowd, great atmosphere and they gave a warm welcome to our German players (Christian Ehrhoff, Jochen Hecht). We know it is going to be pretty rowdy here, so we just have to take it as it is and get ready to play."
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.05.2011 / 9:12 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Ducks fly to Scandinavia

Easier day for Ducks

HELSINKI -- After two days of fairly intense practices and a preseason game upon arriving in Finland, Anaheim Ducks coach Randy Carlyle felt his team needed a bit of a break Wednesday.

The Ducks practiced at Hartwall Areena, an event that was open to fans, and the on-ice workout consisted of a lot 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 full-ice scrimmaging.

"With the schedule that we've been presented with, with the number of commitments and the people who have been pulling us in different directions with our players -- and we have another event today with our fans (who traveled from Anaheim) -- we felt after last night's game and the travel and the events that it was just a good day to have some fun," Carlyle said. "It was just kind of like going back to your roots, playing a little shinny and a little bit of pond hockey. It wasn't East-West, but it was U.S./European vs. Canada, and being a Canadian I have to say the Canadians kicked butt again today.

"I thought I put all the Europeans … they have all the skill on their side, but the Canadians came through today."

There were plenty of "ooh's" and "ahh's" from a crowd of about 1,000 fans, as all the open ice allowed the players to showcase some fancy stickhandling and passing skills. After one goal, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf attempted to re-create Teemu Selanne's famous celebration from his rookie season in Winnipeg, when he tossed his glove in the air and used his stick to "shoot" it down.

Getzlaf's effort didn’t go quite as well -- he tried to flip a glove in the air, but it came off his hand wrong and quickly fell to the ice. The crowd appreciated the nod to Selanne, though, and applauded him -- after they were done laughing.

"To me it is about the pulse of where your team is at and how they feel," Carlyle said of the lighter tone. "I know that in not even having to play there are some tired bodies, and it showed last night. It showed in some of the practices. We'll always push our players as far as we can, but it goes back to the old saying that you can't push if they don't have energy. You can't demand that 110 percent if they're not rested and not ready to give it to you. You're just beating a dead horse. We've been pulled in a lot of different directions, plus we're still trying to get over the jet lag, so we felt it was good to go, 'Whoa, whoa' today."

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.05.2011 / 9:07 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Ducks fly to Scandinavia

Ducks reward fans' loyalty

HELSINKI -- Thousands of hockey fans from here in Finland crammed into Hartwall Areena to see the Anaheim Ducks play Tuesday, and they cheered at times in a way that made it feel almost like a home game for the club.

There were about 150 fans sitting together who did not have decide between rooting for the local team, Jokerit, or for Anaheim’s Finnish players, or both -- those fans are here from the Anaheim area.

"I think you could hear the 'Let's Go Ducks' chant once in a while, which was cool that they were cheering for us even though there were all the Helsinki fans in the stadium," Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller said. "It is great to have that support."

A Ducks team spokesman said the organization originally planned for 100 fans, but ended up with about 150 for the trip. The team helped organize a travel and ticket package for the fans, and also helped with some tourism activities once they got here.

As a reward for making the commitment of traveling about 5,600 miles, the Ducks had a reception for the fans with the players and coaching staff at Hartwall Areena after practice Wednesday. The fans were able to take pictures, get autographs and have lunch with the players in a restaurant/bar inside the arena sponsored by Karjala, which is a Finnish beer that is part of the Hartwall brewing company. The bar resembled a mine shaft, with wooden trusses and exposed rocks similar to the ones near the visiting dressing room.

"It is unbelievable. It really shows that we have some great fans, and they support us all over the world where ever we go," defenseman Francois Beauchemin said. "I remember when we went to London (to start the 2007-08 season) there was a few there, too, and it is just a good way to thank them for coming over and supporting us."
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Posted On Tuesday, 10.04.2011 / 3:03 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Ducks fly to Scandinavia

Ducks hold off Jokerit

HELSINKI -- Ryan Getzlaf scored the game-winner for the Anaheim Ducks as they held off Jokerit, 4-3, in overtime at Hartwall Areena. The puck came right to Getzlaf at the edge of the crease near the right post at 1:13 of the extra session.

The Ducks were outshot in the game 33-24, including a 27-16 advantage for Jokerit between the first intermission and the start of overtime.

Corey Perry had an assist on Getzlaf's goal and finished the game with 3 points.

Ben Eaves had a goal and an assist, and Ilari Filppula had a pair of assists for Jokerit.

Goalie Jonas Hiller made 30 saves for the Ducks, and coach Randy Carlyle praised him afterwards.

Carlyle also said defenseman Toni Lydman will not be available for either game this weekend. He was hoping to be back to play in his home country Friday of Finland for Friday's opener, but Carlyle said the team now is targeting the home opener next week against San Jose for Lydman, who had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder in May.
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Posted On Tuesday, 10.04.2011 / 2:23 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Ducks fly to Scandinavia

Late rally by Jokerit forces overtime

We're going to overtime here in Helsinki -- two goals from Jokerit made it 3-3 after 60 minutes.

Jokerit closed the gap to one goal again early in the third period. Ryan Getzlaf nearly scored at the other end, but Jokerit countered quickly and converted on an odd-man rush. Riku Hahl put home a rebound past Jonas Hiller. Teemu Pulkkinen made a nifty backhanded drop pass to open up the play.

Ben Eaves tied the game for Jokerit with 3:57 left in the third. He was just able to tuck a loose rebound past Hiller after a shot from Juhani Tyrvainen.

The final seconds of the period counted down with the Jokerit fans on their feet and chanting. It was quite a show from them in the final period after they realized the home team was going to make a game of this.
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Posted On Tuesday, 10.04.2011 / 1:47 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Ducks fly to Scandinavia

Hiller shines as Ducks maintain two-goal lead

After carrying the play during the first period, it was the Ducks' turn to chase in the second. Jokerit settled in during the first half of the second period, and then flat out took control of the contest in the second 10 minutes of the period.

Carolina Hurricanes property Tommy Kivisto cut Anaheim's lead to 2-1 on a goal with 1:04 left in the middle period. Ilari Filppula -- Valtteri's older brother -- found Kivisto near the inside edge of the left circle and he beat Jonas Hiller to the far side. Jokerit had created several chances just before the goal, and could have scored on a 4-on-2 had they not attempted about three passes too many in a fun but ultimately fruitless exhibition of puck movement.

Anaheim's Cam Fowler restored the two-goal lead before the end of the period. Bobby Ryan sent a pass from the left corner to a wide-open Fowler at the top of the circles and he scored with 5.9 seconds left in the period. The Ducks maintained their advantage, but only because Hiller had a great period.
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Posted On Tuesday, 10.04.2011 / 1:02 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Ducks fly to Scandinavia

Perry's pair has Ducks up 2-0 after one period

The Anaheim Ducks lead Jokerit 2-0 after the first period thanks to a pair of goals from the last season's Hart Trophy winner, Corey Perry.

Perry scored twice for the Ducks. The first was set up by one of the local heroes playing for Anaheim -- center Saku Koivu. The second, a one-timer on the power play, came on a pass from the other Finnish legend on the Ducks' roster, Teemu Selanne.

Perry nearly scored a third in at the end of the period, but his shot beat Jokerit goaltender Eero Kilpelainen after the horn sounded for the end of the period.

Anaheim took four penalties in the first, but Jokerit were unable to take advantage. The Ducks dominated at even strength, but Jokerit had a few good chances against goaltender Jonas Hiller with the extra man.

Hiller made a brilliant save on a one-timer from Janne Lahti after a nifty pass in traffic from Teemu Pulkkinen, who is Jokerit’s leading scorer this season and a recent draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings.

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.04.2011 / 12:30 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Ducks fly to Scandinavia

Perry puts Ducks in front

Corey Perry put the Ducks in front 1-0 at the 6:12 mark of the first period. A Jokerit defenseman turned the puck over at the top of the circles and Saku Koivu was there to feed Perry in front of the net for a backhanded shot.

The Ducks killed off the first power-play chance of the game for Jokerit just before the goal. It was a pretty cool scene in here during the PP -- Jokerit fans clapped in unison any time the team had the puck in the offensive zone or were bringing it up the ice.
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