Ducks Closing in on Predators in West

Monday, March 5th 2007, 6:37 am
By: News On 6

Teemu Selanne and Dustin Penner helped the first-place Anaheim Ducks move closer to the Nashville Predators atop the Western Conference.

Penner scored the tying goal early in the third period and Selanne got the deciding goal in a shootout, leading the Pacific Division-leading Ducks to a 3-2 victory over conference-leading Nashville on Sunday night.

Coupled with Detroit's overtime loss to Colorado, Nashville remained two points ahead of the Red Wings in the Central Division. Anaheim pulled within four of the Predators for the West lead.

``We have a lot of work to do,'' Nashville's Paul Kariya said. ``We have 15 games left in the regular season, and we're playing Detroit for the division. Anaheim's a really good hockey club. They're a tough team to play here, and we had a lot of key offensive players out. Our top three centers were out of the lineup, and it's tough to play like that.''

Peter Forsberg, David Legwand and Steve Sullivan, all sat out with minor injuries and Jason Arnott missed his second straight game with flu-like symptoms.

In the other NHL games Sunday, it was: Pittsburgh 4, Philadelphia 3 in a shootout; Colorado 4, Detroit 3 in overtime; Atlanta 3, Carolina 1; Chicago 4, Ottawa 3 in a shootout; San Jose 4, Dallas 0; Boston 4, New Jersey 1; and Vancouver 4, Minnesota 3 in a shootout.

Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 12 saves for the win as the Ducks outshot the Predators 35-14.

``They're the No. 1 team in the conference, so we wanted to see where we were at this point,'' Giguere said. ``Obviously, they were missing a lot of players, but it doesn't matter. We responded well to adversity today, we never quit and we always kept working. Good things happen to teams that do that.''

Selanne also scored his 39th goal of the season in his reunion with Kariya, his longtime Ducks linemate. Selanne, who eclipsed Kariya's franchise records for goals and game-winners earlier this season, needs 20 points, 24 assists and three power-play goals to break Kariya's club records in those categories.

Penner, who had scored the Ducks' first goal in each of their previous three games, got the equalizer with 16:34 left in regulation as he redirected a one-timer from the left point by Chris Pronger past Tomas Vokoun for his 24th of the season.

It extended Penner's goal-scoring streak to four games, the longest by a rookie in Ducks history. He could have had two, but he hit the right post from close range with 4 minutes left in the first period.

``I'm playing a lot different game now than I was in my first and second year as a pro,'' Penner said. ``You have to find that area of the game that you can hang your hat on, and mine is down low in the corners, using my size and creating space for other players.''

Penguins 4, Flyers 3, SO

Erik Christensen twice scored tying goals in regulation, then teamed with Sidney Crosby to win it in the shootout to help host Pittsburgh swept a season series from Philadelphia for the first time.

The Penguins won all eight games against a once-dominating opponent that has won an average of nearly two of every three matchups the last 40 years, with the Flyers going 125-64 with 30 ties and one overtime loss before this season.

Crosby decided a shootout for the second time in four days, following up Christensen's successful shot against Philadelphia goalie Martin Biron to end it.

Thrashers 3, Hurricanes 1

Marian Hossa scored two goals and Kari Lehtonen made 35 saves for host Atlanta.

The Thrashers moved into a tie with Tampa Bay for first place in the Southeast Division. Carolina is five points behind the division leaders and clinging to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Avalanche 4, Red Wings 3, OT

Brad Richardson's goal 2:41 into overtime lifted visiting Colorado.

Milan Hejduk had a goal and an assist, and Tyler Arnason and Brett McLean also scored for the Avalanche. Paul Stastny had two assists, and Peter Budaj made 31 saves.

Kris Draper had two goals, and Valtteri Filppula also scored for Detroit. Mathieu Schneider added two assists, and Chris Osgood stopped 23 shots.

Blackhawks 4, Senators 3, SO

Radim Vrbata and Jeff Hamilton scored in the shootout to lift host Chicago.

Vrbata scored two goals in regulation, including one that tied it with 1:59 left. Mikael Holmqvist also scored for the Blackhawks, who snapped a three-game losing streak.

Vrbata tipped in Brent Seabrook's shot during a 4-on-4 with 1:59 left in the third period to set up overtime, as Chicago rallied from a 3-1 deficit.

Daniel Alfredsson had a goal and an assist for the Senators, who lost their second straight.

Sharks 4, Stars 0

Evgeni Nabokov stopped 26 shots for his 32nd career shutout, Joe Pavelski scored two goals, and visiting San Jose snapped a season-high four-game losing streak.

Curtis Brown set the tone with a goal in the opening 3 minutes and Ryane Clowe also scored to help the Sharks improve to 80 points, one behind second-place Dallas in the Pacific Division.

Bruins 4, Devils 1

Joey MacDonald stopped 26 shots in his first career start with Boston and the visiting Bruins pulled within four points of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Aaron Ward, Marco Sturm, Brandon Bochenski and P.J. Axelsson scored as the Bruins won for the seventh time in 11 games (7-3-1) to close in on defending champion Carolina for eight in the East.

Mike Rupp scored for the Devils, who lost consecutive games for the first time since the end of January.

Canucks 4, Wild 3, SO

Daniel Sedin beat Nicklas Backstrom and Roberto Luongo stopped Pierre-Marc Bouchard in the sixth round of a shootout for host Vancouver.

Luongo, who made 28 saves in regulation and overtime, forced Marian Gaborik to shoot high in the fifth round of the shootout before getting a glove on Bouchard's backhand to clinch the win and move the Canucks two points ahead of both Minnesota and Calgary atop the Northwest Division.

Vancouver's Jeff Cowan, scoreless in 52 games, had two goals for the first time in his 350-game career. Sami Salo also scored as the Canucks improved to 8-1-1 in their past 10 games.