ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Even after a tremendous late-season surge capped by seven straight home victories, the Anaheim Ducks‘ playoff position won’t be determined until the final day of the regular season.
The Ducks are grateful to be pushed, and they plan to keep shoving deep into the NHL postseason.
Jakob Silfverberg had a goal and two assists, and the Ducks maintained their late-season charge with their ninth win in 11 games overall, 5-3 over the Dallas Stars on Friday night.
Josh Manson and Andrew Cogliano each had a goal and an assist for the Ducks, who leapfrogged the Los Angeles Kings by one point for third place in the Pacific Division. The playoff-bound rivals have been trading the spot down the stretch, and the race will go down to the final game — with second place also in play for Anaheim.
“It’s been a long season, but we still want to take that next step,” Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin said.
Anaheim clinched its sixth consecutive playoff berth Wednesday, but it can’t let up heading into its finale at Arizona on Saturday night. The Ducks and the Coyotes will begin about 90 minutes before the Kings host the Stars.
What’s more, if the Ducks win and the San Jose Sharks lose in regulation to Minnesota later in the night, Anaheim will jump into second, earning home ice for at least one round.
Anaheim’s streak of five consecutive Pacific Division titles is ending, but bigger banners are still available to a team hitting its stride.
“The whole team is building that confidence, and we’re playing the right way,” Silfverberg said. “We just need to make sure we have a strong finish tomorrow and see who we get.”
Rickard Rakell and Derek Grant also scored before Cogliano got a key breakaway goal with 5:25 to play for the Ducks, who have lost in regulation at home just once in 17 games since Jan. 23.
Ryan Miller made 23 saves to win his second straight start in place of John Gibson. Miller also earned the 369th victory of his NHL career, tying Tom Barrasso for second among U.S.-born goaltenders.
Jamie Benn scored his 33rd goal and added an assist for the Stars, who aren’t going out quietly in their disappointing season. After beating playoff-bound Minnesota and San Jose in their previous two games, the Stars gave a scare to the Ducks before taking their 10th loss in 13 games.
“(The Ducks) looked like a team that’s getting ready for the playoffs,” Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We looked like a team that still was trying, but they had details in our game that we didn’t have, and that part, I’m sure, is disappointing for everybody.”
Mike McKenna stopped 28 shots in his second appearance of the season for Dallas and the 34-year-old veteran’s 25th NHL appearance of his lengthy hockey career. McKenna, who got a win over San Jose in relief on Tuesday, has been the third goalie most of the season for the Stars, who are his fifth NHL team and 15th professional team.
“I allowed five goals, so I’m disappointed we didn’t win the game more than anything,” said McKenna, who will head back to the AHL next week for the Texas Stars’ playoff push. “There’s room for improvement. Go back, look at video and try to get better again. Doesn’t change anything for me that there’s not more time left here. There’s more time left in the season.”
Marc Methot got his first goal in 35 games this season, and Radek Faksa also scored for Dallas.
NOTES: During a first-period break, Honda Center aired a tribute video to Beauchemin, who has said he will retire after this season. Beauchemin, who has played three separate stints in Anaheim during his career, acknowledged his standing ovation with a wave. “I knew it was coming … (but) I still had some problems keeping it together because of all the great memories.” … Ducks D Cam Fowler missed his second straight game with a shoulder injury that could sideline him deep into the playoffs. Gibson also missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury, but it isn’t thought to be serious. … Rakell’s 33rd goal of the season matched his career high and also ended Anaheim’s 0-for-10 power play drought.
Stars: At Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.
Ducks: At Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.