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Perry hat trick help Ducks keep up mastery of Avs

by Rick Sadowski
DENVER -- The Pepsi Center must feel like a home away from home for the Anaheim Ducks.

Corey Perry collected a hat trick and backup goalie Curtis McElhinney stopped 25 shots Saturday in the Ducks' 3-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche, their fifth consecutive victory in the building over a two-year span.

The Ducks, who maintained their hold on sixth place in the Western Conference, have outscored the Avalanche 23-9 during their streak in the Mile High City.

The Avalanche, on the other hand, will be happy to get out of town when they open a four-game road trip Monday against Phoenix. The Avalanche played seven consecutive games at home and lost five of them, including the last three in a row.

"I do think it's a good time for our team to get on the road and maybe get away from some distractions and just be together again," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "It's a good time; we need to get out there and maybe simplify our game a little bit."

Perry, who had eight of the Ducks' 29 shots, scored twice in the third period and completed his second hat trick of the season and his NHL career with an empty-net goal with 17.3 seconds remaining.

"It's creating chances," said Perry, whose first hat trick came Dec. 12 against Minnesota. "I had a few two-goal games in my career and it finally happened."

Perry, who has 28 goals this season, praised teammate Todd Marchant for giving him the puck for a shot into the vacated net.

"It was a great play by him," Perry said. "It was unselfish. That's how we're continuing our success, with unselfish play."

McElhinney, who played because Jonas Hiller was experiencing fatigue and lightheadedness, collected his second shutout of the season and of his career.

"I feel good right now, I feel comfortable," McElhinney said. "It's good, it's fun. It's nice to get an opportunity like that."

McElhinney said he had some trouble with the altitude in the third period, when he made 10 saves, including three on two Avalanche power plays.

"I played here for four years and I just forgot how hard it was to breathe," said McElhinney, who graduated in 2005 from Colorado College in Colorado Springs. "I was trying to stand up as much as I can and take in as much air as possible. They had a pretty good push there and the guys did a nice job of making them stay outside for the most part."

Perry scored a first-period power-play goal, then gave the Ducks a 2-0 lead at 1:53 of the third after he made a nifty move on Avalanche forward TJ Galiardi. He skated into the slot and put a high backhander into the top left corner of goalie Peter Budaj's net.

"I got the puck on the wall and the guy was charging at me, went to one knee, and I just had to go around him," Perry said. "I went to the net, went to my backhand, and it found its way in. I was just trying to get it on net."

Said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle: "A goal-scorer's goal. Not that many guys can do that, bring the puck off the wall and find that spot in the net with the velocity of the shot."

Goaltending and penalty killing have been problems for the Avalanche in recent weeks, but both were fine Saturday. Budaj stopped 26 of 28 shots and Colorado killed five of six penalties, including a two-man disadvantage that lasted 1:28 spanning the first and second periods.

"You don't ever want to take that many penalties, but our penalty killing kept us in the game," Sacco said. "We were able to kill off a substantial 5-on-3, and Peter was solid. He did everything he could to give us a chance to win."

The Ducks nursed their 1-0 lead into the final period behind McElhinney, who wasn't tested until late in the second when he made a scrambling save against Brandon Yip and stopped Matt Duchene on a wraparound attempt during the Avalanche's first power play of the game.

"Our goaltending has been one of our strengths, maybe the strongest point of our hockey club," Carlyle said. "Both goaltenders have been able to give us quality goaltending when we've needed it. Today was one of those games when we needed it."

The Ducks had the first six power plays of the afternoon until Perry, who scored a first-period power-play goal, went off for slashing at 18:25 of the second period.

The Ducks spent a good chunk of the opening period on the power play when they outshot the Avalanche 10-3 and took their 1-0 lead on Perry's goal at 13:51.
Teemu Selanne, who has 12 points (7 goals, 5 assists) in an eight-game point-scoring streak against Colorado, passed to Perry near the left post for a shot that eluded Budaj to the glove side.

The Avalanche took five penalties in the period. Captain Adam Foote was hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with 54.2 seconds left for complaining about his high-sticking infraction while the Avalanche were killing off a hooking call against Ryan Stoa, giving the Ducks a five-on-three skating advantage.

The two-man advantage carried into the second period for 33 seconds, after which the Ducks had an additional 2:32 of power-play time as Foote completed his penalties.

The Ducks enjoyed a total of 4:32 of consecutive power-play time after Stoa went to the box but only managed one shot on goal in that stretch. The teams weren't at even strength again until the 3:06 mark of the second.

"Sometimes you get a lot of power plays and sometimes you get a lot of penalty kills," Avalanche center Paul Stastny said. "You just have to go with it and find a way to win."
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