Sharks

Ducks Deal Blow To Sharks’ Playoff Hopes

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Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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ANAHEIM (CBS / AP) — Teemu Selanne scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period, Jonas Hiller made 28 saves, and the Anaheim Ducks dealt a blow to San Jose’s playoff hopes with a 3-1 victory over the Sharks on Wednesday night.

Bobby Ryan also scored and Corey Perry scored his 36th goal of the season into an empty net for the Ducks, who were eliminated from playoff contention during their fifth win in six meetings with their California rivals this season.

Anaheim also knocked the Sharks out of first place in the Pacific Division as Dallas (89 points) moved ahead of San Jose (88), Los Angeles (88) and Phoenix (87) in a remarkable four-team race for a division title and just three probable playoff spots.

The Sharks’ loss also clinched a playoff berth for the Nashville Predators, who are fifth in the Western Conference. They are the fourth team in the West to secure a spot in the postseason.

Ryane Clowe scored and Antti Niemi stopped 24 shots for the Sharks, who had won three straight.

The 41-year-old Selanne scored his 25th goal in yet another remarkable season when he tipped Luca Sbisa’s slap shot through traffic. Selanne, who hasn’t decided whether to return for another season, is 12th in NHL history with 662 career goals.

Hiller was outstanding yet again while extending his franchise record with his NHL-high 70th start in 77 games this season. The Sharks’ only goal resulted from an atrocious giveaway by Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin, and Hiller otherwise shut down San Jose in a style reminiscent of his stellar play in eighth-seeded Anaheim’s first-round upset of San Jose in the 2009 playoffs.

Perry got credit for a last-second score when Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle slid and knocked the empty net off its moorings while the NHL MVP lined up a shot. The referees immediately awarded a goal to Anaheim, and the ruling was confirmed by league video review.

With three straight wins since losing at Los Angeles last week, San Jose moved atop the Pacific Division on Monday for the first time since Feb. 25. The Sharks have earned seven straight playoff berths and four consecutive division titles, but must fight for a postseason spot into the regular season’s final week.

After a scoreless first period in which the Sharks had the best chances, rookie Devante Smith-Pelly collected the puck behind the net midway through the second period and got it in front to Ryan, who made a rare foray into the crease. Ryan tipped it home for his 28th goal, putting him closer to his fourth straight 30-goal season.

Just 52 seconds later, Beauchemin made a foolish backhand clearing attempt behind his own net. Logan Couture grabbed the puck and fed it in front to Clowe, who had a nearly open net for his 15th goal.

The Sharks hadn’t visited Anaheim since Jan. 4, when they posted their only win over the Ducks this season. That 3-1 loss was the last straw in a miserable start for the Ducks, who immediately made a 9-0-1 run and returned to respectability—too late to save their playoff chances.

NOTES: Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf extended his assist streak to nine games by setting up Perry’s goal. … Sharks D Douglas Murray apparently was injured during the first period. The team didn’t immediately update his condition. … The Ducks sent promising RW Kyle Palmieri back to their AHL affiliate in Syracuse on Monday in hopes of getting some playoff experience for him. Palmieri was the AHL’s leading goal scorer when he left for Anaheim, where he had three goals and two assists in seven games during his most recent call-up. … Sharks F TJ Galiardi returned from a six-game absence because of an undisclosed upper-body injury. C Michal Handzus was a healthy scratch in his place.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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