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Ducks wrap up division title, No. 2 seed

The SportsXchange

EDMONTON -- Two wins in two nights at Rexall Place gave the Anaheim Ducks their first Pacific Division title in six years.

The Ducks posted a 3-0 victory Monday over Edmonton, on the heels of a 3-1 victory Sunday night over the Oilers, to lock up their first Pacific crown since 2006-07, the year they won their lone Stanley Cup championship.

The sweep snapped a four-game losing streak and seems to have put the Ducks back on track.

"It definitely helps," Anaheim's Corey Perry said. "It wasn't a great atmosphere around (the team) the last week or so. To win on the road is a great feeling."

Anaheim (29-11-6) will have the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, thanks to the best start in their franchise history (20-3-3).

"We've always wanted to start the way we started this year, it just hasn't happened in the past," said Perry, who's proud of the way the Ducks kept their focus despite the big cushion. "When you build up such a big lead, you're going to have spots during the year where you're going to be dipping into a valley.

"If you can get out of that valley as quickly as possible, it puts you in a better situation."

For the Oilers, the night meant nothing. Sunday's defeat left them mathematically eliminated from the playoffs for a league-leading seventh straight year.

It was a humiliating lesson, though.

"We saw an 'A' game from Anaheim tonight, and we just couldn't match it," Oilers coach Ralph Krueger said. "They were hungry to get second place in the Western Conference wrapped up, and it showed us what playoff teams are playing like and thinking like right now. We just can't rise to that level."

Edmonton didn't waste any time digging itself a hole Monday, starting with back-to-back penalties from captain Shawn Horcoff that resulted in one power-play goal against and a lot of time spent hemmed up in the defensive end.

Ryan Getzlaf's power-play goal after 6:13 wound up being the game-winner.

The Oilers, who were being outshot 9-0 at one point, fell behind 2-0 when Radek Dvorak was left all alone by the side of the Edmonton net at 11:48 of the first period. He could have counted to five before scoring his fourth of the season, three of which have come against the Oilers.

Edmonton pushed back hard in the second period, with a cast of maligned veterans such as Ryan Smyth and Ryan Jones leading the way, but despite some of the team's best pressure in five periods, the Oilers couldn't crack Viktor Fasth in the Anaheim net.

Edmonton continued pressing in the final period, and it looked as if it would launch a comeback -- the Oilers have come from behind in the third period six times this season -- but a point shot from Sami Vatanen at 3:55 gave Anaheim all the insurance it would need.

Fasth made 24 saves for the shutout. Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin finished with 25 saves.

The Oilers scored one minute into the first period of the first game Sunday night, then didn't score again for the next 119 minutes.

"We won five games in a row at the trade deadline, and we're nowhere near that team now," Edmonton center Sam Gagner said. "You just have to find ways. I know it's tough down the stretch when we've lost like we have, but it's no excuse. We have to continue to battle through."

They've lost eight of their last nine, five in a row at home.

"Right now screaming and yelling and beating up on this team is not going to help them," Krueger said. "They need to look inside to see what is missing and what are we doing different than these other teams and try and work on that. It is all we have left right now."

The Ducks won for the 11th consecutive time at Rexall Place. The last time they lost a game in Edmonton was Nov. 30, 2007. It is the longest winning streak in any opponent's building in franchise history.

NOTES: Edmonton C Eric Belanger, who was going to be shut down for the season with a groin injury, was pressed into action Monday by the foot injury to Magnus Paajarvi. The Oilers were all out of forwards because they've only been carrying one spare. They use the other extra roster spot for D Theo Peckham, who's been a healthy scratch in all but four games this season. He's being punished for coming to training camp out of shape. ... Ducks RW Bobby Ryan was a late scratch after becoming ill during the day.
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