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HELENE ELLIOTT

Ducks headed in the right direction with 5-2 victory over Rangers

Ducks finish schedule against the Eastern Conference with victory over the visiting Rangers. They are two points out of a playoff spot with 15 games to play.

March 09, 2011|Helene Elliott
  • Ducks defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, right, is congratulated by teammate Bobby Ryan after scoring a goal during the first period of the Ducks' 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
Ducks defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, right, is congratulated by teammate… (Lori Shepler / Associated…)

The Ducks' final game this season against an Eastern Conference opponent became a statement about their hunger to remain in the West playoff scramble.

They overcame an early deficit Wednesday and stormed back with four straight goals against the New York Rangers to earn a 5-2 victory before a crowd of 12,251 at Honda Center. This was the Ducks at their best: contributions from their top line, another big game from defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who tied a club record with a plus-5 defensive rating, and clutch goaltending from Dan Ellis.

Among Ellis' 30 saves, none was more spectacular than the scrambling paddle stop he made on Brandon Dubinsky early in the third period — an effort his teammates rewarded by going up ice and giving him a 4-1 lead when Bobby Ryan finished off a two-on-one with Corey Perry.

"You try to get anything you can on it," Ellis said after improving his record with the Ducks to 4-1-1.

Ryan had a goal and three assists, Perry scored twice and had a helper and Visnovsky had two goals and an assist for a spree of five goals and eight points in four games.

"Every point is important for us right now, especially with an East team," Visnovsky said. "We need a game like this."

In winning for the fourth time in five games — the exception being a 3-0 loss to Vancouver on Sunday — the Ducks inched up to 10th in the conference, two points behind eighth-place Phoenix.

The Ducks finished with an 11-6-1 record against the East and will play their final 15 games against West teams, nine against Pacific Division rivals.

"There's a lot of four-point games coming up and that's certainly not lost in this room," Ryan said. "The guys are well aware of that. … There's going to be a lot of jockeying for position here down the stretch and I think the team is excited for it."

And they know they won't get any gifts from the teams ahead of them, not with the Kings starting a four-game trip with a win at Detroit and Calgary and Dallas each earning points Wednesday.

"You hope along the way that other teams might give you some help, but you really can't rely on that," Ellis said.

"Once you start relying on other teams' failures and stuff like that you let your guard down."

The Rangers scored first, delighting a sizeable contingent of their fans scattered throughout the arena when Dubinsky finished off a quick passing play with linemates Ryan Callahan and Artem Anisimov at 3:30. The Ducks pulled even at 7:34, after Perry snared the rebound of his own shot and backhanded it on net, where it caromed off the foot of Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi and past goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Visnovsky put the Ducks ahead at 9:19 on a 50-foot slap shot through traffic and gave them a 3-1 lead exactly 10 minutes later. Saku Koivu, whose passing skills and poise were missed during the six games he was idled because of a groin injury, made the goal possible with a pass to Teemu Selanne. The veteran right wing curled along the boards before passing back to Visnovsky, whose long shot glanced off the stick of Anisimov, Lundqvist's shoulder and into the net.

After Ellis' save on Dubinsky and Ryan's goal, the Ducks tempted fate with a bench minor, and the Rangers capitalized on Marian Gaborik's jam shot by the right post at 5:31. But Perry restored the three-goal margin at 14:36 when he tapped a hopping puck past Lundqvist for his 33rd goal this season, a new career best.

Perry combined with Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf for three goals and eight points. "The puck just seemed to work for all three of us," Ryan said.

The Ducks have their work cut out for them in their final 15 games. They might play well and

still miss the playoffs, but nights like this reminded every team ahead of them that they will be a formidable foe.

helene.elliott@latimes.com

twitter.com/helenenothelen

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