The Anaheim Ducks are back to the .500 mark. Their next target: the top eight in the Western Conference.
Saku Koivu scored a power-play goal with 4:23 remaining in regulation as the Anaheim Ducks skated away with a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at GM Place on Wednesday night.
Although the Ducks are last in the West, their 13-13-7 record has coach Randy Carlyle looking for better things.
"We finally got to .500," Carlyle said. "I guess we felt .500 isn't exactly a great accomplishment for our group, but our team is playing a batter brand of hockey. If we can continue to develop as a group then you never know what can happen."
With Kevin Bieksa off for tripping, Koivu stepped out from behind the net, took a perfect soft pass from Kyle Calder and dunked a backhander into a wide-open right side of the net past Roberto Luongo.
"I don't know how he saw me," said Koivu, who has 3 goals and 7 points in the Ducks' last four games. "It was a fairly easy tap-in for the goal."
Jonas Hiller, who finished with 28 saves, preserved the victory with five superb stops in the final four minutes as the Canucks pressed for the equalizer.
"He made some big stops," Carlyle said of Hiller. "If you don't get goaltending, you don't have a chance."
Anaheim won its second straight on the road after losing nine in a row away from home. The Ducks have points in six consecutive games.
Vancouver, now 19-15-0 overall, fell to 3-1-0 at the halfway point of an eight-game homestand.
The Ducks outplayed the Canucks badly in the opening period, outshooting them 13-2, but found themselves locked in a 1-1 tie.
"They were real good and we seemed to be searching for our legs," coach Alain Vigneault said. "Our goaltender kept us in the game. Roberto came out ready to play right off the hop. I can't say that for the rest of the team."
Bobby Ryan opened the scoring at 11:48, finishing off a feed from Koivu. But the Canucks tied it at 17:07 when Henrik Sedin got his 15th of the season, finishing off a pass from twin brother Daniel after a turnover by Anaheim defenseman Scott Niedermayer.
Vancouver had all four power plays in the second period, but Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf had the only goal, beating Luongo at 10:55.
Steve Bernier got the Canucks even again 2:03 into the third period, poking a loose puck behind Hiller.
Luongo said even though the Canucks managed to tie the game in the third period, they paid the price for their slow start.
"There's no reason to expect to win a game without working," he said. "They deserved to win, and we didn't. We had a chance to bring this game to overtime and lost it."