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Ducks aim to extend season for Koivu, Selanne

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- There's no denying the excitement that the young core of the Anaheim Ducks has generated the past few days. Between rookie goalie John Gibson, left wing Devante Smith-Pelly and defenseman Sami Vatanen, the future looks very bright.

But the time is now for veteran forwards Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu, who acknowledged Tuesday what it would mean to eliminate the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Second Round. Anaheim leads the best-of-7 series 3-2 and can close it out in Game 6 on Wednesday at Staples Center (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

Koivu, 39, has never advanced to a conference final since he entered the NHL in 1995.

"Obviously, winning tomorrow, I would get a chance to experience something that I haven't been able to do so far," Koivu said. "It would be a huge step for myself, but at the same time, you don't want to get ahead of yourself and try keep all the focus on [Wednesday's] game and on this series."

Koivu came to Anaheim in 2009 as part of the second stage of his career. His role changed and he was reunited with Selanne in a last-chance effort at the Stanley Cup. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf knows what this Stanley Cup Playoffs means to Koivu and Selanne, who will retire after the season.

"I think Saku, especially," Getzlaf said. "[Teemu] always wants to go out on a high note, I'm sure. Given the opportunity, I'm sure he'd love to. Saku, I know, really wants this. He wants to get to the Finals. He wants an opportunity to play for that Cup, and we'd love to give it to him."

Sentiment also runs deep for Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau, who has never made it past the second round. NHL Network went inside Anaheim's dressing room and filmed Boudreau's postgame speeches after Games 4 and 5, and his message was not to get too high.

"He mentions that all the time," defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. "It's impossible to lose a game and not feel like the sky is falling. You're down 2-0. Guys can say they're confident, but you're still down 2-0. At the same time, after these games, guys come into the locker room just shaking, they're so excited.

"We have earned these wins. I know a lot of people have talked about shots against, but I'm sure that the Kings would trade their great shot totals for our wins. We try and stay level, not too high. We are very excited, but [Wednesday] night, it's anyone's game once again."

Boudreau and the Ducks spoke of how difficult it will be in Game 6, especially against a Kings team that erased a 3-0 series deficit and advanced past the San Jose Sharks in the first round. Boudreau again spoke of the Kings' "championship blood" that still runs from their 2012 Cup.

"I would still venture to guess that people are still thinking that they're the favorites to win the series because of what they've done in the past," Boudreau said.

Lovejoy knows it will take 100 percent from every player in the lineup to help Boudreau get over the hump this postseason. But Lovejoy's desire to win goes beyond his coach.

"I think that all of us are in the same boat," Lovejoy said. "A few guys in our locker room have won Stanley Cup rings, but a majority haven't. We're all desperate. We all want to be there. We want to do it for him, but selfishly, I want to do it for me too. From the beginning of the year, this is a team that we have felt can compete for a Stanley Cup.

"We want to go out there and do that for Bruce. But individually, we all selfishly want to do it for ourselves too."

Anaheim left wing Matt Beleskey and goalie Frederik Andersen, who each sustained a lower-body injury, did not skate Tuesday. Boudreau said that's a sign that they're not closer to being available for Game 6.

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