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Sharks fall in Anaheim

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April 6, 2011 | Leave Comment

ANAHEIM — Corey Perry capped his third career hat trick with his NHL-leading 50th goal during a dynamic four-point performance, and the Anaheim Ducks kept pace in a tight playoff race with a 6-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night.

Rookie Cam Fowler, Teemu Selanne and Jason Blake also scored as Anaheim rebounded from back-to-back losses to stay in a seventh-place tie with Chicago in the Western Conference standings. Both clubs have 95 points apiece and two games to go.

Dan Boyle and Ben Eager scored for the Sharks, whose four-game winning streak ended with Anaheim’s four power-play goals. In their first game since clinching their fourth straight Pacific Division title, the Sharks lost in regulation for just the third time in 23 games since Feb. 13.

Two nights after San Jose embarrassed the Kings, the Sharks were thoroughly humbled by the other team in California’s lively three-way NHL rivalry. All three appear headed to the same postseason for the first time, with San Jose and Anaheim looming as a possible first-round matchup.

Joe Pavelski’s 10-game points streak ended for the Sharks, who finish with a home-and-home series against Phoenix. With 103 points, San Jose is one point ahead of Detroit in second place in the West standings.

With the playoffs looming next week, Sharks coach Todd McLellan finally gave a day off to Antti Niemi, who had made 34 consecutive starts in goal. Antero Niittymaki had been dropped from San Jose’s Finnish goalie platoon after missing 17 games with an injury, but the Sharks’ penalties were much more responsible for Anaheim’s domination than any rust on San Jose’s goalie.

The Sharks scratched left wing Ryane Clowe after the 24-goal scorer incurred a lower-body injury in Monday’s blowout win over Los Angeles, and center Scott Nichol also sat out his 20th straight game since mid-February with an upper-body injury. Both veteran forwards traveled with San Jose and could play Friday at Phoenix.

The Ducks’ victory eliminated the Calgary Flames, but the 10th-place Dallas Stars still have a chance with 91 points and a game in hand.

Perry all but wrapped up his first Richard Trophy and burnished his MVP credentials with the biggest night yet in his remarkable late-season scoring binge. He became just the third 50-goal scorer in Ducks history and the Western Conference’s first 50-goal scorer since Calgary’s Jarome Iginla in 2007-08.

Captain Ryan Getzlaf had four assists and Bobby Ryan had three while their linemate lit up Sharks goalie Antero Niittymaki, who made 28 saves in his first start since Jan. 13.

With 19 goals in his last 14 games, Perry is six goals ahead of Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos for the NHL goal-scoring title with two games to play. Perry also moved into second place on the

NHL scoring chart with 97 points, behind only Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin (100).

Ray Emery stopped 22 of 23 shots before leaving midway through the second period with what the Ducks said was a minor injury. He was cleared to return, but Dan Ellis wrapped up Anaheim’s 13th win in 18 games heading into a season-ending home-and-home series with Los Angeles.

Perry put the Ducks ahead in the first period when he carried the puck into the Sharks’ zone and easily held off defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic before flicking a backhand past Niittymaki. After Fowler scored the 10th goal of his remarkable rookie season, Perry scored again during a delayed penalty early in the second period.

Ellis replaced Emery before Anaheim began a 76-second two-man advantage later in the period, but Perry needed just 18 seconds before banging home a point-blank pass from Selanne for his 50th goal. Dozens of hats rained onto the ice during a raucous chant of “M-V-P! M-V-P!” from the Honda Center crowd.

The Associated Press

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