Ducks clinch first division title in franchise history with 4-3 win over Columbus

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Teemu Selanne had two goals, and the Ducks celebrated the first division title in franchise history by beating the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 on Saturday night.

Word leaked out to the Ducks just before the start that they had clinched the Pacific Division, thanks to Vancouver's 4-3 overtime victory over second-place San Jose.

"I was looking at the scoreboard like every 10 seconds in warmups," Selanne said with a laugh.

Dustin Penner and Ryan Getzlaf added goals for the Ducks. Getzlaf also assisted on both Selanne goals.

Knowing they were assured of the Pacific title and the No. 2 seed in the West - and a first-round matchup with Minnesota - the Ducks relaxed early. Rick Nash scored a quick goal for the Blue Jackets.

"We knew we had solidified our position before the game started," coach Randy Carlyle said. "We played like it in the first little while. You can't blame the players in those situations. The relief - it's a natural human trait to sit back."

Not having to win their regular-season finale was a luxury, captain Scott Niedermayer said.

"It was obviously a little different once the San Jose game finished, but we wanted to still go out and try to play hard," he said.

Nash, Gilbert Brule and Jason Chimera scored goals for Columbus, with Chimera adding an assist and Fredrik Modin two assists.

Columbus rallied for two late goals to cut into a 4-1 deficit, and Chimera and Brule got off shots in the waning seconds while a crowd of 17,391 roared. But Ilya Bryzgalov had saves on both, turning away 42 shots. The Blue Jackets' 45 shots were a season high.

Despite neither team having much at stake - Columbus began the night 23 points out the final playoff spot in the Western Conference - both played with an edge. Nash opened the scoring on a nifty move 3:30 in, then picked up a five-minute major for charging that seemed to spark both teams.

Niedermayer was involved in one lengthy verbal spat near the Columbus bench and fought with Ron Hainsey.

"Anaheim plays with an edge all the time," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We play with an edge now. We've worked really hard to develop that over time."

In between all the jawing and the punches, the Ducks answered with two first-period goals.

Selanne evened it with a backhand off a pass from Getzlaf on the power play, then Penner stole the puck from the Blue Jackets' Derrick Walser and skated in, deking goaltender Fredrik Norrena down to the ice and tucking the puck inside the near post for his 29th goal.

Selanne added his second goal of the game - and 48th of the season - when he took a pass from Getzlaf and went in alone from the right side to beat Norrena high over his left shoulder.

Getzlaf skated past Columbus forward Sergei Fedorov, who has been playing defence, to score and make it 4-1.

Norrena was replaced during the second intermission by Tomas Popperle.

Brule scored a soft goal midway through the third period, his shot from the right point eluding Bryzgalov on the glove side. Less than five minutes later, Chimera pulled Columbus to 4-3 when he swooped in from the right wing and his shot deflected off a defenceman and past Bryzgalov.

There was no huge celebration in the Anaheim dressing room. The Ducks didn't pour champagne because they know they still have a lot of work ahead.

"This team's ready," Selanne said. "We want to raise our level. It's no secret."

Notes: Chimera tied a Columbus record with 10 shots on goal. ... The victory extended the Ducks' franchise records for wins (48) and points (110). They had never reached 100 points before. ... Columbus, which won just five of its first 20 games before Gerard Gallant was fired as coach, went 28-29-5 under Hitchcock. ... Anaheim earned points in 17 of its last 20 games.


Nicholas Robertson (Steven Ellis/The Hockey News)

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