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Ducks surge into seventh with shootout win

by John Kreiser
Shootouts have caused Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle a lot of headaches over the past few years. On Thursday night, though, he got the desired outcome.

Corey Perry scored the only shootout goal, giving the Ducks a wild 6-5 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at G.M. Place in a game that saw each team blow two-goal leads. The win moved the Ducks into seventh place in the West, one point ahead of St. Louis and two in front of ninth-place Nashville.

"I've had lots of history with shootouts, and it hasn't been very productive," said Carlyle, whose team is 22-26 in the breakaway competition -- more losses than any team except Florida (27) and Washington (26). "But you'll take them at this time of year. Every point is very, very precious."

It was the second shootout between the teams this season. Vancouver won 7-6 after a 13-round shootout at Anaheim on Halloween.

This time, though, the Canucks had to settle for a single point -- albeit one that assured them of a playoff berth. But the loss dropped them out of the Northwest Division lead. Vancouver and Calgary have 94 points, but the Flames are first because they have two more wins. Calgary comes to G.M. Place on Tuesday in a game that should give the winner the inside track.

"We're in and now we're going to focus on seeing whether we can get home-ice advantage," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said after his team couldn't hold leads of 4-2 and 5-3 in the second period. "At the end of the day, that team right now with us is the second-hottest team in the NHL and it went to a shootout. We battled hard and a point automatically clinches a playoff spot."

Anaheim jumped to a quick 2-0 lead when Teemu Selanne and Bobby Ryan scored 76 seconds apart midway through the first period. But Henrik Sedin and Kyle Wellwood tied the game before the period ended, and goals by Alex Burrows and Daniel Sedin in the first 5:18 of the middle period gave Vancouver a two-goal lead.

"We stopped doing the things that got us our two-goal lead," Carlyle said. "Then they got the momentum and we were able to seize it back."

Ryan cut the margin to 4-3 at 7:36, but Ryan Kesler finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play at 10:56 to restore Vancouver's two-goal margin.

However, the Ducks refused to quit. Perry closed the gap 66 seconds after Kesler's goal, banging a rebound over Roberto Luongo after a sloppy Canucks line change. Selanne snapped a quick shot between the goaltender's legs off the rush to tie it with 3:32 left in the period.

"The important thing was that we managed to come back every time we were down," Ryan said. "We got two points we desperately needed."

Perry scored on the first attempt of the shootout. Jonas Hiller stopped all three Vancouver shooters, ending the game with a sweeping glove save on Burrows' wrister.

"We feel like we belong in the upper echelon in this conference and it's been a long year with a lot of inconsistency," Ryan said. "If we can manage to peak at the right time then hopefully we can create some damage."

Flames 2, Stars 1 | Video | Gallery

The Flames wrapped up a playoff berth for the fifth consecutive season and dropped the Stars closer to missing the postseason for the first time since 2002. Craig Conroy's goal at 12:21 of the second period broke a 1-1 tie and Miikka Kiprusoff made 29 saves for his League-high 44th victory.

"Making the playoffs is just a step on the way to another one," said Calgary captain Jarome Iginla, who scored his 33rd goal. "We didn't even talk about it afterward. I'm sure we'll talk about it on the bus, but our goal is more than that."

Dallas would gladly settle for a playoff berth -- but it's not likely to happen.

The Stars, who snapped a seven-game skid Tuesday night against Los Angeles, took the early lead on Fabian Brunnstrom's 14th goal, a backhander past Kiprusoff 3:02 into the game. Iginla tied it at 10:40 when his shot hit the right post, deflected off the back of Marty Turco's skate and crossed the goal line.

Conroy deflected Dion Phaneuf's shot from the slot past Turco to put the Flames ahead to stay. Kiprusoff stood tall in the third period, stopping all 10 shots he faced while Calgary managed just one.

"He's one of the best," Dallas center Mike Modano said. "He's very established, but we didn't get much in terms of quality chances."

With a spot in the postseason now assured, the Flames can focus on gaining home ice in the first round of the playoffs. Calgary took a one-point lead over Vancouver for the Northwest Division lead.
Calgary had a 10-point lead over Vancouver in the Northwest on March 6. The Canucks and the Flames meet Tuesday night in Vancouver.

"It's a huge win for us," forward Eric Nystrom said. "We want to get the ball rolling and build off the good things we did."

The 12th-place Stars, who finish their home schedule Saturday against St. Louis, are all but out of the playoff race. They have to win all four of their remaining games and get lots of help.

"We will not roll over and die," defenseman Darryl Sydor said. "We are professionals and we will play hard for our coaches, owners, fans and for each other, our teammates. You learn and grow as a player through adversity and you find the best in people during tough times."

Sharks 2, Oilers 1
| Video

San Jose's 51st victory of the season and third in a row moved the Sharks closer to locking up first place in the West -- and sent the slumping Oilers another game closer to an early summer.

Jonathan Cheechoo and Dan Boyle scored for the injury-riddled Sharks, who improved to 51-15-11, matching the franchise record for victories set in 2006-07. Evgeni Nabokov stopped 25 shots to improve to 40-9-8 as the Sharks swept the two Alberta teams for the first time in franchise history.
"It was a simple road win," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "I don't know that we were at our best.
"I thought Edmonton threw everything they had us, they came very hard. We had to be very prepared."
With 113 points, the Sharks are six ahead of Detroit in the Western Conference and three in front of Eastern Conference leader Boston in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.

"We do care about the points, but we care more about the way we play," Nabokov said. "With a lot of guys out of the line up we have to tidy it up a little bit, we have to be disciplined and that's what we are right now."

Sam Gagner scored the only goal for Edmonton, which fell to 11th in the Western Conference. The Oilers have lost three straight and six of their last seven.

"It's disappointing," Gagner said. "The battle level and the intensity were there. The guys were working hard and creating a lot of chances. Obviously at this time it comes down to results, though."

Cheechoo opened the scoring 52 seconds into the game, ducking behind Joe Thornton and using him as a screen to beat Dwayne Roloson. Boyle made it 2-0 by cashing in a power-play rebound at 8:16 of the second.

The Oilers got back into the game when Gagner took Robert Nilsson's backhand pass and beat Nabokov with a high wrist shot from the slot at 18:18 for a power-play goal. But despite pressuring Nabokov in the third period, they were unable to get another puck past him.

"We missed some great chances, myself included," said Ales Kotalik, who hit a post early in the final period. "I had more than one chance that I had to put away, bottom line. If I had got one of those through, the game could have ended in our favor."

Coyotes 2, Kings 1 | Video

Memo to Al Montoya: The NHL really isn't this easy.

Montoya stopped 20 shots to make it two wins in two nights in his first two NHL games. He came within an errant pass of back-to-back shutouts as the Coyotes officially eliminated the Kings from the playoff race. Ed Jovanovski and Scottie Upshall scored third-period goals to give the Coyotes their third win in four nights.

"To get a win at home, there's nothing like it," Montoya said. "I just want to keep making those saves and giving the team a chance to win every night."

Montoya blanked Colorado 3-0 on Wednesday in his NHL debut and was perfect again until Keith Yandle's backhand clearing attempt went right to Derek Armstrong between the circles, and Armstrong slid the puck between Montoya's pads at 17:30 of the opening period.

"I thought Montoya was good again," said Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky, who added that he will start the rookie in Los Angeles on Saturday. "He made key saves when he had to make key saves. He bounced right back with a couple of big saves after we went down 1-0, and we found a way to win it in the third period."

Jovanovski tied it 6:08 into the third period, one-timing Shane Doan's pass from the right boards past Jonathan Quick from the top of the crease. Upshall won it with 5:54 remaining, tipping Matthew Lombardi's pass behind Quick, who made 30 saves.

"I thought he was our best player here tonight," Kings coach Terry Murray said of his rookie goaltender. "We didn't generate a lot to test their goaltender very often."

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.

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