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Ducks and Canucks tune up for playoffs

by Matthew Mankiewich /

DUCKS (29-11-6) at CANUCKS (26-13-7)


Last 10: Anaheim 5-4-1, Vancouver 7-2-1

Season series: Deciding match of three, each team has won convincingly on the road in the first week of the season. The Anaheim Ducks are on a five-game point streak in Vancouver's Rogers Arena.

Big story: Both teams locked up their respective division titles on Monday, the Ducks clinching the Pacific and the second seed in the Western Conference with a 3-0 road win against the Edmonton Oilers while the Vancouver Canucks wrapped up their fifth straight Northwest crown and the third seed with a 3-1 win against the League-leading Chicago Blackhawks. While the seedings are set and the game means nothing in the standings, both teams are using the remaining games as tune-ups for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Team Scope

Ducks: Monday's clincher marked only the second time the Ducks have won the Pacific outright in their entire 20-year history. The other time was in 2007, the year they won the Stanley Cup. They beat the Canucks in the Western Conference Semifinals that year, the only time the two teams have met in the postseason.

That was then, this is now -- and the Ducks took care of "now" in short order, sweeping the Oilers in back-to-back games in Edmonton to end a four-game winless streak.

"I think it was certainly important to win the division, but it was more important to get back to playing the way we know we can," defenseman Francois Beauchemin said to the Los Angeles Times.

"It was a good two games for us, and that's what's most important."

Canucks: Maybe it's too early to be sending a message to a potential late-round playoff opponent, so the Canucks will be satisfied sending one to themselves. After taking some heat for lackluster play, the team put on a show against the Blackhawks that left everyone optimistic.

"I thought our effort level was great, our execution was great, our defensive play was great, physicality, it was the whole package," goalie Cory Schneider said. "If we play that way, and we know we can, we can beat a lot of teams in this league."

"Yeah, it's up there, I think," Daniel Sedin said, ranking the game among the season's best. "From the first shift we were focused on getting pucks deep and we were on the forecheck and forechecking the right way, which is a key for our team. I thought we did a good job of that."

However, Schneider won't be in uniform for this game. The Canucks announced Wednesday that he's out with an undisclosed injury and that Roberto Luongo will be in goal.

Who's hot: Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf has points in six of his past eight games. Corey Perry is nursing a four-game point streak. … Daniel Sedin's assist on Zack Kassian's goal Monday moved him past Markus Naslund into second on the Canucks' all-time list. He trails only twin brother Henrik, who picked up a pair of assists that night himself.

Injury report: Ducks defenseman Sheldon Souray (lower body) missed two games but should be ready Thursday. Forward Bobby Ryan (illness) missed Monday's game and is questionable. Defenseman Luca Sbisa (upper body) remains questionable as well after sitting out four games. … Luongo will play in Schneider's absence, with AHL rookie Joe Cannata as his backup. Defenseman Kevin Bieksa (lower body) has missed four games and remains day-to-day. Keith Ballard (back) will miss Thursday's game but might be available for Saturday's season finale at Edmonton.

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