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Ryan scores two as Ducks top Blackhawks 4-2

by Josh Brewster

The Anaheim Ducks aren't going to miss the playoffs without a fight.

Birthday boy Bobby Ryan scored twice and Anaheim took advantage of a misplay by rookie goaltender Corey Crawford to beat Chicago 4-2 on Wednesday night, handing the suddenly struggling Blackhawks their third consecutive loss.

With the victory, their second in a row, the Ducks moved within eight points of eighth-place Detroit. Anaheim, which finished last season 10-2-1 to earn the final Western Conference playoff spot, are seeking a similarly successful finish in a desperate struggle to make the postseason.

"It was an emotional game and both teams were desperate for points," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "We knew them coming in here and having lost their last two hockey games that they were going to be a little bit of a grouchy hockey club. We have to be grouchy in the situation we're. It was two teams competing and when the physical element of the game gets up there, it's up to people to respond."

Saku Koivu broke a 2-2 tie with 5:36 left in regulation and Ryan, who turned 23, on Wednesday. capped the win with an empty-netter with 53 seconds remaining.

Chicago, though still comfortably ahead in the Central Division, has now lost to Philadelphia, Washington and the Ducks in a five-day span. They play at Los Angeles tomorrow and Phoenix on Saturday.

The Ducks got some help from Crawford, who was recalled from AHL Rockford because starter Cristobal Huet has the flu.

With the game tied 1-1 and the Hawks on a second-period power play, Dustin Byfuglien's shot caromed off Ducks defenseman Aaron Ward, popped out of Anaheim's zone and rolled quickly through the neutral zone. Anaheim's Todd Marchant gave chase, while Crawford came far out of his net to play the puck in the high slot.

But Crawford whiffed and the puck slid to Kyle Chipchura, who fed Marchant for an easy shot into the wide-open net at 6:27. It was Marchant's third shorthanded goal of the season and 28th of his career.

"I can't take hardly any credit for it," Marchant said. "(Chipchura) made a great play. He put pressure on the puck. (Crawford) came out to play it. He put it on my tape and deserves 99.9 percent of the credit."

"I've played forward and defense," said Byfuglien, who tried to stop Marchant's shot into the empty net. "I thought I'd try playing goalie once. I just tried to get in front of it."

Crawford, who was generally solid while making 32 saves, kept the margin at one goal just over six minutes later, when he stopped Dan Sexton's breakaway attempt.

The Blackhawks tied the game 5:12 into the third period when Patrick Sharp collected the puck along the half-wall and passed to Duncan Keith, who shot high, through traffic. The puck caromed off Marian Hossa's stick and went up over Jonas Hiller's right shoulder. The play was reviewed, but the goal stood.

Hiller finished with 39 saves.

Koivu's winning goal came after Lubomir Visnovsky's shot popped high in the air in front of Crawford, Anaheim's Corey Perry gave Chicago's Brent Sopel a shot to the back, toppling him as the puck dropped to the ice. When Andrew Ladd left his position to hit Perry in retaliation, Koivu pounced on the loose puck and fired a wrister past Crawford for his 13th of the season.

The Blackhawks' defense, already without the services of the injured Brian Campbell, lost Brent Seabrook 2:22 into the second period.

Former Blackhawk James Wisniewski hit Seabrook with a high forearm to the face, and Seabrook crumpled to the ice. A melee ensued during which Keith fought Wisniewski, but Seabrook left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville was angry with his former defenseman.

"If you hit a guy without the puck, you can kill a guy," said Quenneville. "It's the most dangerous hit in the history of the game alright? And (Wisniewski) tried to hurt him. That's not intent?"

Quenneville didn't mince words, and offered another recent hit on one of his players as an example.

"We can argue the Ovechkin hit," Quenneville said in reference to the hit on Brian Campbell on Sunday. "But tonight's is a different category. It's not up to me to decide what's next, but it's the most dangerous hit in the game."

Carlyle, understandably, didn't see things the same way.

"There's a criteria that the League follows (for discipline)," Carlyle said. "We've always taken the stance that we don't have to always agree with what the league's decision is. We have ample video, we'll watch it, analyze it and we'll plead our case if there needs to be a case pleaded."

The teams traded goals in the first period.

Ryan opened the scoring at 4:08, celebrating his 23rd birthday with his 30th goal, streaking down the slot and taking Perry's passout for a quick shot past Crawford.

Ryan Carter, who started the play, filled in as Anaheim's top-line center, replacing Ryan Getzlaf, who missed the game after aggravating an earlier left ankle sprain Sunday in a victory over San Jose.

Seabrook tied it at 11:16 after Keith passed the puck to Troy Brouwer down low to Hiller's right. Brouwer fed a cross-zone pass to Seabrook in the high slot, and his slap shot squeezed through Hiller's left arm, went off the post and into the net.

Carlyle was pleased with his club's effort in wins against San Jose and Chicago this week after a five-game losing streak that severely damaged his team's playoff hopes.

"Our team has played with a lot of emotion, a lot of heart," he said. "It's mind-boggling for us to come out of the Olympic break and play four games to the level we played. We're not going to quit."

Anaheim's Teemu Selanne entered the game with 599 career goals and left the same way, though he had five shots on goal and a couple of excellent chances.

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