Koivu has goal, 3 assists, Ducks beat slumping Avs 5-2 to keep playoff hopes alive

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ducks keep flickering playoff hopes alive

DENVER — Jason Blake had a goal and four assists, Saku Koivu added a goal and three assists and the Anaheim Ducks kept their slim playoff hopes alive while dealing a setback to Colorado’s with a 5-2 victory over the Avalanche on Wednesday night.

With six games remaining, the Ducks moved within seven points of the slumping Avalanche. Colorado’s hold on the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference grew more precarious after the Avalanche lost for the sixth time time in seven games, including the last three straight.

Calgary is Avalanche’s closest pursuer. The Flames beat Phoenix 2-1 on Wednesday night to move within two points of Colorado, which will host Calgary on Friday night.

Playing some of their best hockey of the season, the Ducks have won seven of nine, including their last three wins with Curtis McElhinney in goal in place of ailing starter Jonas Hiller (back spasms). Curtis McElhinney made 27 saves.

For a moment, it appeared Colorado struck first but officials ruled Cody McLeod’s shot into the net 6:13 into the game was a no-goal because he struck the puck with a high stick. The call was confirmed by video replay.

The offensive frustrations mushroomed from there for Colorado. Midway through the second period, Matt Duchene’s stick broke as he took a shot in the open from up close, resulting in missed scoring chance. Early in the third, Milan Hejduk, who had scored Colorado’s first goal, missed a shot wide with an open net.

Anaheim moved in front 1-0 on Steve Eminger’s third goal of the season. Koivu dug the puck out from behind the behind the net and got it out to the point, where Eminger unleashed a slap shot to beat Craig Anderson.

The Ducks made it 2-0 by capitalizing on Colorado turnover at the blue line. Blake picked up the loose puck and drove down the ice before passing to the streaking Koivu. He knocked the puck into the net for his 16th of the season with four seconds remaining in the first period.

Colorado closed to within a goal on Hejduk’s power play score at 13:22 of the second but Anaheim rebuilt its cushion when Scott Niedermayer put in his 10th of the year with 30 seconds left in the period, driving the puck past Anderson with a side shot from the lower left circle.

Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne finished an odd man rush early in the third period with his 22nd goal of the season.

Darcy Tucker had Colorado’s other goal at 13:26 of the third.

NOTES: Selanne, who scored his 600th career goal in a March 21 victory over Colorado, tied Jari Kuri (601) for 17th on the career list. … Hejduk has eight goals in 12 games since returning from knee and back injuries. … Anaheim has gone 7-1 against Colorado since Nov. 24, 2008.

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