Ducks outlast Stars to earn playoff spot

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ANAHEIM, California (AP) -- The Dallas Stars couldn't end the

Anaheim Ducks' playoff hopes this time.

Jonas Hiller made 42 saves, Teemu Selanne scored the deciding

goal with a unique move in the shootout and the Ducks wrapped up

a playoff spot with a 4-3 victory over the Stars on Friday

night.

Selanne raced in on goalie Marty Turco, stopped and calmly

lofted the puck into the net to put Anaheim ahead in the fourth

round of the shootout. Hiller then shut down Loui Eriksson to

wrap up the win, the 10th for the Ducks in their last 12 games.

"We've been playing like a playoff team the last month," Selanne

said. "I think we just woke up at the last second."

Even before the shootout heroics by Selanne, the Ducks clinched

the Western Conference playoff spot by securing a single point

through the end of regulation after giving up Steve Ott's tying

goal with 14 seconds remaining.

Dallas, playing its final game, missed the playoffs for the

first time since 2002.

"It's not the impression we want, not making the playoffs,"

Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "As professionals, you have a

responsibility to compete right until the end, and we did that."

The Stars eliminated the Ducks in six games in the opening round

of the playoffs last season and fought back from three deficits

in their season finale Friday while trying to spoil Anaheim's

attempt at securing a playoff spot.

"Obviously we're disappointed, knowing for the last three or

four games of the season, we knew our fate," said Dallas center

Mike Modano, skating in his 1,400th NHL game. "We just felt like

we were climbing from behind all season long. We were never able

to get in a groove, get any momentum or any consistency in our

game."

Both teams suffered through inconsistency in the final period

Friday.

Anaheim captain Scott Niedermayer gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead

early in the period, before Fabian Brunnstrom scored to draw

Dallas even. Then just 13 seconds after Brunnstrom's goal,

Andrew Ebbett took a feed from Selanne and snapped the puck past

Turco to restore the Ducks' one-goal advantage.

Todd Marchant also scored for Anaheim.

The win allowed the Ducks to remain in seventh place in the

Western Conference. Anaheim and St. Louis each have 90 points,

but the Ducks have the first tiebreaker with two more wins than

the Blues.

Anaheim will close out the regular season Saturday at Phoenix,

while the Blues will finish at Colorado on Sunday.

"We're in," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "You work all year.

You start in September with your group and you have visions of

playing in the playoffs. It's a marathon that we just are about

to complete with one more game in Phoenix. It again is an

important game for us from a standpoint of improving our

position. It's amazing that all of these games have had a

certain degree of importance. Tomorrow is no different."

Anaheim has posted a 10-2 mark down the stretch, moving up from

12th place on March 15 to secure their fourth consecutive

appearance in postseason play. Hiller has been a big part of

that success. He made his sixth straight start for Anaheim,

posting a 5-1-0 record over that span to lead the Ducks' late

season surge.

The Ducks also received a big lift Friday when defenseman

Francois Beauchemin returned to the lineup after missing 62

games while recovering from a left knee injury. Beauchemin was

given a lengthy ovation when he held the puck behind the Ducks'

net during his first shift.

"It was unbelievable. I really didn't expect it," Beauchemin

said. "I didn't really want to leave the back of the net. The

guys were changing, so I just did the control breakout and then

I heard the crowd go. I was looking for a fight somewhere, but

there wasn't. That was quite something. I appreciate that."

Despite being outshot 17-7 in the first period, the Ducks took

an early lead as Marchant took a feed from Rob Niedermayer in

the high slot and whisked a wrist shot over Turco's right

shoulder 9:50 after the opening faceoff.

Ott tied it during a Dallas power play four minutes into the

second.

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