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Surging Ducks cool off Senators with 2-1 victory

by Curtis Zupke
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Not even the Ottawa Senators' impressive road show could overcome the new swagger of the Anaheim Ducks.

Well, that swagger might actually have a slight limp after Anaheim blocked 22 shots and got one of the better all-around performances from its top line in a 2-1 victory Saturday afternoon in a game between two of the hottest teams in the NHL.

Corey Perry completed a textbook faceoff play for Anaheim's first goal and the defense -- led by Francois Beauchemin's nine blocked shots and Jonas Hiller's 31 saves -- did the rest.

"Everybody was sacrificing and playing for the team, and that's the way you win," Hiller said. "It's a lot of fun to play like that."

Anaheim is having a lot of fun lately; the Ducks are 7-0-1 in their last eight games, outscoring their opponents 33-14 in that span. It's their longest unbeaten streak in regulation since an 8-0-1 run in October-November of 2008.

Despite the surge, Anaheim is 13th in the West, 11 points behind eighth-place Colorado, which plays Saturday night in Los Angeles.

Ottawa had its five-game road winning streak snapped and suffered only its second regulation loss in 13 games and its first regulation road loss since Dec. 1. The Senators were attempting to win six straight away from home for the first time since Jan. 14-Feb. 3, 2010.

"Quite frankly, I couldn't care less if we were picking off (the) Mickey Mouse club," said Bruce Boudreau, who moved to above .500 (10-9-3) for the first time as Anaheim coach.

"Two points is two points. But it's nice. You look at the schedule and you go, ‘Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness.' And you start to beat them. It makes your guys more believing that what you're preaching is true. You (start) to say you are a good team. You just have to start believing in yourself."

Boudreau said the shot-blocking is part of that believing.

"When you get shot-blockers, the players on the team appreciate it, everybody appreciates it," he said. "It takes a lot of courage to do that. So when you see guys doing it as much as I our guys are doing it right now, you can tell the care level is way up there right now."

Ottawa did a lot of things right, including extending its streak of games without allowing a power play goal to seven. The Senators also more than kept pace with the Ducks on shots, but didn't get many quality scoring chances.

The Senators' lone goal came at 8:51 of the third period when Anaheim's defense was caught standing still as Chris Neil banged in his own rebound off Nick Foligno's passout to pull Ottawa to 2-1.

Ottawa directed 63 shots on goal but 22 were blocked and nine missed the net.

"They were in the way," Ottawa coach Paul McLean said of Anaheim's defenders.

"They had maybe six goalies out there some of the time. That's the nature of the league right now. A lot of people block shots. That's part of it. You just have to continue to put the puck at the net and not get frustrated.

The Senators had the Ducks on their heels early in the third. They also had a chance to force overtime when they pulled goalie Craig Anderson with 93 seconds to go before Getzlaf won a pair of faceoffs in the defensive zone and cleared the puck.

"You can't just expect to play 20 minutes in the third and win a hockey game," Neil said. "We gave it our best effort, but we came up short tonight. We tried to put a lot of (shots) at the net and they fronted it really well. Obviously we wanted to get some traffic in front of Hiller and make it tough for him to see the puck. Obviously he's a great goaltender and if he can see the puck, he's going to make the save."

A great play by the Ducks' top line produced the first goal. Getzlaf won a faceoff from Jason Spezza, Bobby Ryan chased down the puck in the corner and threw it off his backhand to a wide-open Perry, who roofed a backhander at 6:15 of the second period for his 22nd goal.

"We draw that up," Getzlaf joked. "Bobby, that's his play on every faceoff to jump. On that particularly one he jumped and beat his d-man and made a great play. They should always go like that."

Anaheim took a 2-0 lead at the 17-minute mark of the second period on the kind of fortunate bounce that it never seemed to get before its recent hot streak. Lubomir Visnovsky's shot from the right side caromed up in the air above the crease; Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson swatted at the puck, only to watch it hit Anderson's shoulder and go into the net.

Anaheim scratched Matt Beleskey (hand) while veteran forward Mark Bell, recalled Friday from the AHL's Syracuse Crunch, played his first NHL game since April 5, 2008.

"It's been a long road," Bell said. "But it's pretty sweet to get a win and be a part of it. I don't what else to say … there's lot of emotions going on."

It was only the third appearance by Ottawa in Anaheim since the Ducks beat the Senators in the 2007 Stanley Cup Final.
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