March 31, 2014

Anaheim needs victories in its last two games plus some help in order to claim a fourth straight Pacific Division title. Asking the Ducks how much they really care about hanging another banner likely would elicit some pretty aloof responses.

Their focus remains winning their first Stanley Cup since 2007 after falling a victory short of the Final last year.

Anaheim will have home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs no matter what happens during Saturday's visit to Colorado or Sunday's trip to Washington, but finally scoring on the Avalanche certainly would help its recently stagnant offense.

The Ducks' rise up the standings is an accomplishment in itself after sitting 16 points back of Los Angeles on Jan. 20. They eventually took sole possession of first place in the Pacific, but the Kings broke a tie atop the division with Thursday's 2-1 win over the Ducks.

Anaheim (44-25-11) fell to 1-2-1 in April and would need to win out and Los Angeles to lose its finale against Winnipeg later Saturday to win the division, but that's not the first thing on Ryan Getzlaf's mind.

"We've got two games left to get ready for the real thing," Anaheim's captain said. "We're just trying to get into the playoffs. That's what we've been trying to do the whole time. We accomplished that. Hopefully we can push through the end and be ready for whoever we're facing."

The Ducks would play Nashville in the first round if they win the Pacific, but they'd have much less travel by finishing second and facing San Jose. No matter the opponent, they'll likely have to take it up a notch offensively.

Anaheim has scored once in back-to-back games, something that's reminiscent of early season scoring woes that put it in catch-up mode. Colorado (39-38-4) won each of the first two meetings by 3-0 scores Oct. 16 and March 9, and Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington has allowed the second-fewest goals behind the Ducks.

"We know we have two tough games," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "If L.A. beats Winnipeg, we know where we're going and who we're playing. At least that's something that's known right now."

The Avalanche have known since Tuesday's loss to Nashville that they'll be watching the playoffs from home for the second straight year after winning the Central in coach Patrick Roy's first season. They've lost five in a row after falling 4-2 at Dallas on Thursday and have allowed at least four goals in the last four.

"None of us want to be in this situation, but at the end of the day we have no one to blame but ourselves," defenseman Erik Johnson said. "Guys are fighting for jobs for next year and someone's always watching.

"As crappy as it feels to be in this predicament, we're in it because we put ourselves here and we're going to work hard until the end."

Francois Beauchemin and Shawn Matthias scored against the Stars, but Colorado went 0 for 4 on the power play and is 2 for 28 over its last 11. Nathan MacKinnon, who scored in each meeting with the Ducks, has been out the last nine with a knee injury.

"I expect more from our guys, but I guess when you're out of the playoffs the emotion (is) not the same," Roy said.

Semyon Varlamov got the night off and could be in goal for the finale. He made 37 saves against the Ducks in the last meeting.

Either John Gibson or Anton Khudobin will open Anaheim's back-to-back set while Frederik Andersen remains out until the playoffs with a concussion.

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