ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Home ice advantage in the playoffs is always a priority for the Anaheim Ducks, who clinched all four playoff series at Honda Center last season on the way to their first Stanley Cup title.
The Ducks still hold down fourth place in the Western Conference following Friday night's gritty 3-1 victory over Calgary, which increased their lead over the sixth-place Flames to six points and kept them three ahead of fifth-place San Jose.
"This was the type of game we're going to have to play in the playoffs," goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere said. "It was a game where everybody needed to be involved. Our toughness needed to be there, the power play was good and our penalty-killing was good. So I'm pretty happy with the way we answered them."
Defensemen Mathieu Schneider and Scott Niedermayer each had a goal and an assist, Teemu Selanne extended his goal-scoring streak to four games, and Giguere made 22 saves to help the Ducks win their fifth consecutive game and beat Calgary at home for the seventh straight time.
Calgary had to play short-handed for the final 3:18 after Kristian Huselius got a double-minor for cutting Rob Niedermayer with a high stick in the Anaheim zone. They were two-men short for the final 1:27 after Dion Phaneuf got a holding penalty, two more minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, and a 10-minute misconduct.
Selanne completed the scoring with 52 seconds left during the 5-on-3 advantage. He has seven goals and five assists in 11 games since his return, and the Ducks are 10-1 during that stretch.
Anaheim head coach Randy Carlyle was not behind the bench because of the flu, but was in the arena. Assistant coach Dave Farrish, whose primary responsibility is the penalty-killing unit, ran the team with help from assistant coach Newell Brown - and injured team captain Chris Pronger.
"It was my idea. I wanted to give him an idea of what it feels like to be back there," Farrish said. "He's certainly been around enough - and he's like a coach on the ice, anyway. I left him alone all night long, and I thought he did a great job for us."
Pronger wasn't able to play after undergoing surgery to repair a small fracture in his jaw. The All-Star defenseman was hurt on a freak play during Sunday's win against Chicago, when Patrick Sharp of the Blackhawks scored on a wrist shot and the blade of his stick inadvertently struck Pronger on the follow-through.
|Calgary Flames goalie Curtis Joseph, right, blocks a shot by Anaheim Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne in the second period of the Ducks 3-1 win on Friday. The fourth-place Ducks increased their lead over the sixth-place Flames to six points in the battle for Western Conference playoff positions. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)|
Doug Weight and Todd Marchant also were out of the lineup with shoulder injuries. The Ducks also lost right wing Todd Bertuzzi with a game misconduct after his fight with Phaneuf at 5:31 of the first period, because the back of his Bertuzzi's jersey was not properly tied down.
Anaheim scored on its first shot, as Schneider wristed a 20-footer over Miikka Kiprusoff's glove from the slot just 35 seconds after the opening faceoff.
Scott Niedermayer made it 2-0 on a power play, using Calgary's Eric Nystrom as a screen and beating Kiprusoff high to the glove side with a 40-foot slap shot from the slot while Phaneuf was off for holding Samuel Pahlsson.
"I'm not happy with the team at all," Flames coach Mike Keenan said. "I tried to reinforce the sense of urgency yesterday with them. We practiced poorly, and I thought it was reflective of our start. Our goalie wasn't ready for the game, nor was the team."
Curtis Joseph replaced Kiprusoff at the start of the second period and stopped 13 of the 14 shots he faced. The Flames got on the board at 7:09 of the second during a power play, as Phaneuf got a cross-ice pass from Jarome Iginla and put a 15-foot wrist shot past Giguere's glove for his 14th goal while Schneider was off for holding Iginla.
"Whenever you play the defending Stanley Cup champion, it's always a good challenge and it's competitive," Iginla said. "Those are games you definitely get up for."
Notes: The Ducks conclude their seven-game homestand Monday night against Ottawa, their first meeting with the Senators since beating them in the Stanley Cup Finals. The last two times the teams that met in the finals faced each other the following season, the defending champion lost. Carolina beat Detroit 6-4 in a rematch of 2002, and Edmonton beat Carolina 3-1 in a rematch of 2006. ... Farrish was a head coach in the minors for a combined 1,027 games in the AHL, IHL and East Coast Hockey League. This is his third season as a Ducks assistant coach. The former defenseman played in the NHL for seven seasons.