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Selanne nets pair, Ducks join Kings in playoffs

by Curtis Zupke
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Anaheim Ducks will join the rival Los Angeles Kings in the postseason for the first time, thanks to one of the more enduring symbols of Southern California hockey.

Teemu Selanne scored two goals as Anaheim clinched a postseason berth with a 2-1 victory on Friday night that delighted the sellout crowd of 17,587 at Honda Center.

The Ducks needed a victory to avoid having to beat Los Angeles again on Saturday because Dallas stayed alive Friday with a win against Colorado.

Selanne delivered in the first and again in the third, his 636th and 637th career goals, to ensure that it wouldn't potentially be his final game in front of the home crowd.

"Absolutely not," Selanne said. "It has been grinding for the last three months and I really believe this team deserves to be in the playoffs. That's why this was a big step forward and now at least we can breathe a little bit."

Anaheim's return to the postseason after a one-year absence comes at the end of a regular season marked by resiliency.

The Ducks won nine of 14 when captain Ryan Getzlaf was out with a facial injury and went 12-3-1 after a five game winless streak in February. They survived the loss of Jonas Hiller and turned it on with an 11-3 record in March.

"The team bands together at times when it looks like we could have been down and out and could have crumbled," forward Bobby Ryan said. "It speaks to the character in the room and obviously we've got different leaders in different ways that stepped up."

Anaheim prevailed in perhaps the biggest game in the history of this series in terms of what was at stake this late in the season. The closest the teams had previously come to making the playoffs in the same year was 2000, when the Kings finished fifth and the Ducks ninth.
Although they are bitter rivals, both sides understood the significance of making the playoffs together for the first time in 17 years.

"We need this," Selanne said. "Obviously for hockey here in Southern California, this is going to be a huge boost for both franchises. I'm very happy about this situation."

The Kings held the Ducks' top line of Ryan, Getzlaf and Corey Perry scoreless, but the second line of Selanne, Saku Koivu and Jason Blake took up the slack.

Koivu delivered a terrific pass while he was falling down to Selanne, who snapped it in from the right side early in the third period to put Anaheim ahead, 2-1, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.

"It was a great pass," said Selanne, who took sole possession of 27th on the all-time scoring list with 1,340.

"I thought we got a little 3-on-2 and I started to go (to the net). I hope the puck is going to come and there it is on my blade. The rest of the job was pretty easy."

Selanne had already obliged the fans with a second-period strike to tie the score going into the third.

Luca Sbisa's slap shot bounced to Selanne in the inner edge of the right circle and he wristed it over Jonathan Quick's shoulder for his 30th goal this season -- the 10th time he has reached the 30-goal mark.

The Kings held the Ducks without a shot on goal through the first seven minutes and took advantage of a Ducks turnover to take a 1-0 lead into the second.

Anaheim defenseman Toni Lydman couldn't secure the puck near his goal line, and Jarret Stoll got it out to Dustin Brown for a shot that settled in the crease. Ryan Smyth backhanded it home for just his second goal in the past 22 games.

The Ducks started Dan Ellis in goal with Hiller serving as his backup, and he came up with the stop of the game, making a point-blank glove save on Wayne Simmonds late in the first period.

Anaheim goalie Ray Emery was scratched in somewhat of a surprise move given that coach Randy Carlyle said after the morning skate that Emery was questionable but would likely start or back up.

Emery came out of Wednesday's game with tightness in his lower body and it was announced then as a precautionary move, but the veteran did not skate Friday morning.

Carlyle said it was too early to determine if Emery would be available Saturday night when the teams finish the regular season at Staples Center.

Los Angeles desperately needs to win that game. It dropped from fourth to sixth and could fall further.

Offense is a glaring issue. The Kings have scored only 11 goals in their past six games. They squandered three power plays to extend their slump to 0-for-16 and didn't show as much desire late.

"They needed those points to get in the playoffs," Simmonds said. "I think we could have done a better job for ourselves … We kind of let our foot off the pedal halfway through the game there, and they kind of came on strong, and obviously that cost us."

Anaheim center Todd Marchant (flu) was scratched. Kyle Chipchura took his place in the lineup, his first action since March 11.

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