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Canucks visit Ducks, try once again to clinch

by Brian Hunter
CANUCKS (46-27-4) at DUCKS (37-31-8)

Last 10: Vancouver 5-4-1; Anaheim 7-3-0

Season series:
Fourth and final meeting of the regular season. Anaheim has won two of three, including a 7-2 win in the first matchup at Honda Center on Oct. 30. Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan each scored twice in the victory. Daniel Sedin had a goal and two assists and Henrik Sedin had three assists to lead Vancouver to a 4-1 victory in the most recent game on March 24.

Big story:
The Canucks will attempt to clinch a Western Conference playoff berth for the second straight night, after getting routed in Los Angeles on the front end of their California road trip. The Ducks are still mathematically alive, so there will be motivation on their end to make life difficult for their visitors.

Team Scope:

One point is all Vancouver requires to punch its ticket to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but what the Canucks really need at this point is a solid 60-minute effort and two points in order to turn around a stretch that has seen them drop five of eight. They were shelled Thursday by the Kings, with Roberto Luongo absorbing the entirety of an 8-3 loss. Kyle Wellwood had a pair of goals in defeat.

"It was (Luongo's) game, and that's what it was," coach Alain Vigneault said in response to why he never pulled his goalie. "I've got a plan, and I'm going to stick to the plan. … You've got to be mentally tough, because you're going to have nights like that."

Ducks: Anaheim has won three straight and seven of its last 10 to stick around on the fringes of the Western Conference race. Curtis McElhinney, acquired from Calgary at the trade deadline for Vesa Toskala, has won his first four decisions for the Ducks, a relief appearance against the Islanders followed by his first three starts for the team. He stopped 27 shots Wednesday in a 5-2 win over the Avalanche.

"I wanted to come here and make an impression," McElhinney said. "I've been given an opportunity to do that and so far, the result has been good. The guys have been great and everybody has been super nice to me. It's been a lot of fun."

Who's hot: Daniel Sedin scored a goal for the fifth consecutive game Thursday in the Canucks' loss. Henrik Sedin picked up his League-leading 105th point and extended his points streak to six games with an assist. Alexandre Burrows had a three-game goal streak snapped.

Jason Blake erupted for a goal and four assists while Saku Koivu recorded a goal and three assists as the Ducks beat the Avalanche. Koivu, Teemu Selanne, Scott Niedermayer and Steve Eminger all scored goals and were a plus-5 against the Avs. Blake finished with a plus-4 rating. Selanne has a goal and five assists during a four-game points streak. McElhinney has a 1.98 goals-against average and .933 save percentage since joining the team.

Injury report:
Back spasms kept Daniel Sedin out of the lineup on Thursday, while Alexandre Burrows left the game for Vancouver after being hit in the upper-body area by a Jarret Stoll shot. Shane O'Brien was held out for disciplinary reasons. Mikael Samuelsson remains out with a shoulder injury, while Willie Mitchell (concussion) and Steve Bernier (sports hernia) are on injured reserve.

Jonas Hiller has been battling back spasms for Anaheim, which could mean another start in goal for McElhinney. Ryan Getzlaf is day-to-day with a sprained left ankle. Joffrey Lupul hasn't played since back surgery in December. James Wisniewski is finishing up an eight-game suspension for a hit on Brent Seabrook of Chicago in a game last month.

Stat pack: Three wins in their last five games would tie and four would break the Canucks' franchise record for victories. … Selanne tied fellow Finnish great Jari Kurri for 17th on the all-time goal-scoring list with No. 601 in the Ducks' win over the Avalanche.

Puck drop: Vancouver can guarantee itself playoff hockey and take another step toward wrapping up the Northwest Division title with a victory, but Anaheim's recent play is an indication it won't be an easy task.
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