Ducks-Canucks Preview

The Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks both just clinched their

respective divisions. There’s a lot of work ahead for both clubs if

they’re going to meet in the second round of the Western Conference

playoffs.

Anaheim will try to close out its road schedule with a third

straight victory on Thursday night when the Cory Schneider-less

Canucks go for a ninth consecutive victory at Rogers Arena.

After missing the playoffs last season, the Ducks (29-11-6)

clinched the Pacific with Monday’s 3-0 victory at Edmonton. The

Ducks’ only previous division title came in 2007 when they won

their lone Stanley Cup title.

Anaheim defeated the Canucks in the conference semifinals that

year in the only playoff series between these clubs.

“We still have to keep working hard, but the last two games have

been a step in the right direction for us,” rookie goaltender

Viktor Fasth said Monday after the Ducks swept two in a row

visiting the Oilers following four straight defeats. “I think we

were even better in this game than we were the night before. We

still have things to work on before the playoffs, though.”

The Ducks, five points ahead of Vancouver (26-13-7), will open

the postseason as the No. 2 seed behind Chicago.

The Canucks locked up the third seed and their fifth consecutive

Northwest Division title with Monday’s 3-1 victory over the

Blackhawks.

“It’s always nice to beat the best team in the NHL, but our

second goal every year after making the playoffs is to clinch the

division title,” said Schneider, who finished with 24 saves. “It

speaks to the success this team has had in the past five, six years

of winning titles and stuff like this.

“We’ll enjoy this for about 10 minutes and then worry about the

(Anaheim) Ducks coming to town (Thursday).”

The Ducks, though, won’t have to worry about Schneider, who has

been ruled out of this game with an undisclosed injury. The Canucks

called up Joe Cannata from AHL Chicago on Wednesday, meaning

Roberto Luongo will get the nod from coach Alain Vigneault for the

first time in 10 days.

Luongo, who has won his last two starts, has faced the Ducks

once this season, stopping 10 of 12 shots in relief of Schneider in

a 7-3 season-opening home loss on Jan. 19.

The Canucks, who evened the season series six days later with a

5-0 victory in Anaheim, will try to end the Ducks’ five-game point

streak in Vancouver. The Canucks’ current run at Rogers Arena is

their best since their franchise-record 11-game home winning streak

ended with a 6-5 shootout loss to Anaheim on April 2, 2009.

The Ducks would like nothing more than to snap another streak in

Vancouver before hosting Phoenix on Saturday in their

regular-season finale.

“First and foremost we needed to get back to our game and

playing well,” defenseman Francois Beauchemin said. “We needed to

get some confidence and score some goals.”

Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, tied for the team

lead with 15 goals, have one total in the two games against

Vancouver, while Canucks leading scorers Henrik and Daniel Sedin

have combined for two goals and five assists in those matchups.