Ducks move into first place in Pacific with win over Canucks
The Anaheim Ducks moved into first place in the Pacific Division.
And, they’ve got much bigger plans.
Corey Perry and Saku Koivu each had a goal and an assist and Frederik Andersen made 31 saves as the Ducks defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 on Saturday night.
"We not only want to get first place, we want to play as good as we can heading into the playoffs," said Andersen, who started in place of No. 1 goalie Jonas Hiller. "Every time you go on the ice you want to prove you can play."
Luca Sbisa, Matt Beleskey and Mathieu Perreault also scored for Anaheim, while Andrew Cogliano and Daniel Winnik added two assists.
Brad Richardson had the lone goal for Vancouver, which remained five points back of the Phoenix Coyotes for the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference. Eddie Lack made 16 saves.
"Obviously, our backs are against the wall and I guess we’re going to see what we’re made out of," Ryan Kesler said with barely a whisper in the Canucks’ locker room. "Are we going to sit back and cower or are we going to give everything and try to give ourselves a chance here?"
The Ducks led 2-1 after the first period and increased their lead at 11:02 of the second off a Canucks turnover when Winnik chipped a pass from the side of the net into the slot to Koivu, who scored his 10th of the season.
Vancouver had a number of opportunities to make things interesting, including three power plays in the second, but didn’t have many clear-cut chances for the league’s 27th-ranked unit.
"It’s inexcusable to have a power play like we have," Kesler said. "To lose 5-1 in a must-win game, it’s embarrassing."
After Koivu gave the Ducks a 3-1 lead, Andersen made consecutive saves off shots by Chris Higgins and Jordan Schroeder from in tight before shooting out a pad to stop Zack Kassian moments later.
"It’s important to have two good goalies that can support each other if something happens," said Andersen, who improved to 17-5 this season.
Perry put the game out of reach by scoring his 38th of the season at 6:45 of the third.
Perreault added his 18th of the season on a power play at 14:03.
"It’s definitely frustrating right now," Kassian said. "There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. We’re frustrated. We know we’re on the outside looking in.
"Like I said 100 times in the past week: We’re competitors and we want to play for each other and that’s what we’re going to do."
Anaheim has thoroughly dominated the first four meetings of its five-game season series with Vancouver, outscoring the Canucks 21-6 and surrendering just one point to its division rivals. The teams meet for the final time April 7 at Rogers Arena.
The Ducks opened the scoring at 7:36 of the first period after the Canucks had a couple of good chances at the other end against Anaheim’s rookie netminder. The puck was played back to the point to Sbisa, whose shot found its way through several players and past Lack for his first of the season.
Beleskey made it 2-0 just 1:11 later. Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell collected a puck in front of Lack and fed a behind-the-back pass to Beleskey, who beat the netminder upstairs as Anaheim scored on two of its first five shots.
Vancouver got one back at 11:12 off some nice work from Kassian in the offensive zone. The big forward maintained possession at the blue line before feeding defenseman Ryan Stanton. His shot was kicked out by Andersen and right to Richardson, and he buried his 10th of the season.
"We’re certainly on the outside looking in and it’s not a spot that we want to be in," Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis said. "I’ve never been in this spot before in my career. We’re not mathematically out of it, even though our chances are slim.
"We’ve got to keep playing hard and give ourselves that chance and make those teams earn it."
NOTES: Richardson had a great chance with the game scoreless in the first period, but Andersen made a terrific stick save on a shot that he deflected onto the post. … Ducks forward Teemu Selanne sat out after playing Friday night in Edmonton against the Oilers. The 43-year-old has not played back-to-back games this season, but said after the morning skate that he will play against the Canucks in Vancouver on April 7. … Kassian has two goals and five assists during his four-game point streak. … Perreault has six goals in his last eight games. … Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf took a shot off his foot before Anaheim’s fifth goal and did not return.