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Close games no problem for Ducks

Wednesday, 03.23.2011 / 2:39 PM / NHL Insider

By Steve Hunt - NHL.com Correspondent

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Close games no problem for Ducks
Some teams might panic in one-goal games, but the Anaheim Ducks seem to relish those close situations
DALLAS -- The Anaheim Ducks have been almost a sure thing in one-goal games this season.

The Ducks are a League-best 25-8-5 in one-goal games, most recently Sunday's 5-4 overtime win against the Flames.

On Wednesday, the Ducks face the Dallas Stars, a team they are 2-1-1 against this year. Their two most recent meetings have been one-goal affairs, with Anaheim prevailing in one of those meetings -- their most recent encounter, a 4-3 overtime win March 4.    

Ideally, Carlyle would rather see his club not have so many close wins, but he'll take them.

"I don't think any coach wants to have as many as what we've had, but we feel fortunate that we've won our share of them," he said. "The one thing that has separated us a little bit is we haven't had to go to the shootout. We've won a lot of those games in overtime, be it off a faceoff, off a power play. We're able to find ways to get that extra point in overtime."

Of the Ducks' 17 games that have gone beyond regulation, only six times have they needed the shootout to determine a winner, which ties them for the third-fewest in the League. That's helped them in the standings; the Ducks and Stars enter the game tied with 85 points, but Anaheim sits eighth in the Western Conference due to 36 regulation/overtime wins, compared to 33 for the Stars.

"The bottom line is when you have a system here and have team confidence, you're going to stick with that even if you're down a goal or two. You believe you can come back. That's the only chance you can come back. You just have to be patient and believe you can come back." -- Teemu Selanne

Carlyle credits his team's determination in many of those close victories.

"Our group has reached back. As I talked about before, you've got to credit our players with going and finding a way to get the job done," Carlyle said. "We all talk about special players and having personnel that can raise their level. We have a few of them."

Corey Perry is one of those special players to which he refers.

"He's having a career year, but he earns it. Corey goes out and plays in those dirty areas, goes to the critical areas, plays in key situations all the time," Carlyle said. "One thing about Corey Perry is when you're sitting on the bench and you explain something, he sees it before a lot of other players. He can tell you what's going on out there and that's a huge advantage for a hockey player to understand what's actually going on out there. He's got a lot of hockey sense."

Perry is second in the League with 39 goals and fifth with 79 points. That level of offense has meant he's factored into a number of those one-goal victories; he scored the game-winning goal in the Ducks' consecutive wins over the Kings and Flames, and his 9 game-winning goals are tied for second in the League.
"Guys have kind of beared down at the end of games. We're comfortable in close games, in one-goal games," Perry said. "Going into overtime, we feel comfortable. We have a feeling that we can win. It's part of the game. We don't like getting in those situations, but at the end of the day, we are comfortable and have guys in here who can make a difference."

Veteran forward Teemu Selanne certainly is one of those players. He scored the game-tying goal Sunday against the Flames, and he said he kind of likes playing in such close contests.

"On one hand, it's nice and exciting. On the other hand, it would be nice to have some breathing room here and there, but this year, nothing," Selanne said. "The bottom line is when you have a system here and have team confidence, you're going to stick with that even if you're down a goal or two. You believe you can come back. That's the only chance you can come back.  You just have to be patient and believe you can come back. We have been playing these kinds of games since right after Christmas."

Both players expect a similar game Wednesday against Dallas here at the American Airlines Center.

"Every time we see Dallas, it's always an intense game against a division rival," Perry said. "It's going to be a playoff-atmosphere game and that's the way all the games are going to be down the stretch."

"It's going to be tight," Selanne added. "When you know that every point's so critical right now, it's going to be a very tight game. Every team who's battling for the playoffs, we're playing against each other all the time. If you win these games, you deserve to be there."
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