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Ducks damage Sharks' playoff hopes with 3-1 win

by Curtis Zupke
ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Anaheim Ducks have maintained that they have a lot of pride and character. They went out and proved it Wednesday by dealing another crippling blow to one of their biggest rivals.

Teemu Selanne tipped in Luca Sbisa's end-over-end shot from the left point at 5:22 of the third period to break a tie as Anaheim defeated San Jose 3-1 at Honda Center.

Selanne's 662nd career goal provided a sentimental note on a night when the Ducks were officially eliminated from the postseason. Corey Perry was awarded an insurance goal at 19:51 when Dan Boyle dislodged the net on Perry's shot on the empty net, and the camera then showed smiling Ducks players.

"To do it against a division rival and maybe snuff out one of their last chances to get in is a very good feeling," said Ducks forward Bobby Ryan, who scored the game's first goal.

Anaheim, which handed San Jose a 5-3 home loss on March 19, went 5-1-0 against San Jose this season. Such success makes Anaheim wonder just what might have been.

"It's a crime that this team is not in the playoffs," said Selanne, 41, who reiterated Wednesday morning that he will decide his future this summer.

"I think this team really deserved more than what we're really getting right now. The first half was so bad that the second half we have to do some miracles and it doesn't really happen in this league very often. Obviously that's disappointing, but I think this team is way better than our situation right now."

 The Sharks' loss, coupled with wins by Dallas and Los Angeles, dropped San Jose from third to eighth in the Western Conference.

The Sharks might have lost more than a game, too, because defenseman Douglas Murray did not play after the first period because of an undisclosed injury. San Jose coach Todd McLellan did not have an update after the game.

He and his players were instead left to explain another puzzling loss.

"We have a lot to lose and it doesn't matter if they have everything to lose or nothing to lose," forward Joe Pavelski said. "We should win that game.

"It's disappointing. This doesn't hurt our chances. We're still coming. We got five games coming and the next game's going to be big. We got to win. It's a setback, but we want to take a step forward and get where we were. We got to keep moving forward and we missed a chance."

Pavelski had a great chance to force a 2-2 tie but Jonas Hiller gloved his shot from the slot. Pavelski also hit the crossbar on a backhander in the first period.
Hiller made 28 saves in his franchise-record 70th start. He improved to 6-1-0 in his last eight starts against San Jose.

Sharks captain Joe Thornton pointed to a perceived mismatch against Anaheim, although McLellan talked Wednesday morning about the strength of his fourth line.

"It's probably their depth up front," Thornton said. "They're a four-line team. That's probably been our Achilles heel. We haven't been able to match a four-line game with them. We played solid, but I would have liked to see us finish a couple more chances."

Despite the win, the inevitable finally arrived for Anaheim.  The Ducks were 20 points out of eighth place on Jan. 6 before going on a 17-3-4 run to get within four points of eighth place on Feb. 23. But the Herculean task was too much and Anaheim, which made no major changes at the trade deadline, won only three of its first 11 games after the deadline.

"It's a shame we gave up so much in November and December and all of it on home ice," Ryan said. "It's disappointing and sweet at the same time.

"When (coach) Bruce (Boudreau) came here … it just seemed like such a big mountain to climb. And then there was hope when he went on the road and came back with as many points as we did. After the deadline, we let some games get away from us. I think it was just running on fumes from playing playoff hockey for so long."

San Jose, which has slumped after leading the West in points at the halfway mark of the season, was coming off three straight wins and looked to take control when it made an important response 52 seconds after Anaheim took a 1-0 lead.

Francois Beauchemin tried to make a backhand pass at the end boards but it hit Logan Couture's skate. Couture collected it and fed Ryane Clowe, who easily deked past Hiller and scored at 10:14 for a 1-1 tie.

Uncharacteristically, it was the second egregious turnover in as many games for Beauchemin, who made a poor pass that led to a goal Sunday against Boston.

Anaheim's third line generated chances early and it paid off in the second period. Devante Smith-Pelly got the puck behind the goal line and hit Ryan, who cut between two defenders and tapped in the pass at 9:22 for a 1-0 lead.

Ryan has three goals and two assists in six games against the Sharks this season.

Selanne recorded his 106th game-winning goal, sixth all-time in the NHL.

T.J. Galiardi returned to San Jose's lineup from an upper-body injury. He missed a breakaway attempt early in the second period.
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