ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—The Ducks, a team many considered a leading Stanley Cup contender heading into the season, have taken a first step.
They’re in the playoffs.
Scott Niedermayer scored with 2:32 remaining in overtime to lift Anaheim to a 3-2 victory over Dallas on Friday night and clinch a postseason berth for the Ducks.
Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle wasn’t exactly popping champagne corks.
“It’s nice to clinch a playoff spot, but nobody is talking about that for us. We’re in, but what does it mean?” he said. “Right now it’s about getting our team to play at the top of their game and be more consistent with what we do.
“We’ll see how we can carry this out onto the road, and it starts Monday night in Detroit.”
The Ducks also set club records for victories (44) and points (100) in a season, bettering the marks they established last season.
Chris Kunitz had two power-play goals for Anaheim, with Niedermayer assisting on the second.
Niedermayer scored his 13th goal of the season on a slap shot down the slot that sailed past goalie Marty Turco and into the top-right corner of the net.
“When it’s four-on-four, there’s a lot of opportunity to change positioning and move around,” said Niedermayer, a defenseman. “Obviously for me, that’s a strength in my game. I was trying to help the forwards and move around a bit, making it hard on the other guys—and it worked out.”
Niedermayer’s goal and assist gave him 64 points and 51 assists this season, both career highs for the former Norris Trophy winner as the league’s top defenseman.
Kunitz scored his second goal of the game to draw the Ducks even at 2-2 at 4:56 of the third period, just 3:16 after Mike Modano had given the Stars the lead.
“We put the puck in behind them a lot and hit them in hopes to kind of wear them down, and it kind off paid off in the third,” Kunitz said.
With players from both teams scrambling for the puck in the slot, the puck popped out to Kunitz, all alone at the edge of the crease. The goal was Kunitz’s 25th.
Modano scored on a wraparound shot for his 19th goal.
Both teams played with high energy.
“Good speed, good intensity, all of the above in that game,” Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. “Scoring chances and some great goaltending, a little bit of everything.
“I liked the way we competed. I thought Turco gave us some big saves, and we fumbled a bit with the puck. But (Jean-Sebastien) Giguere made some great saves for them.”
Turco faced 35 shots, and the Stars had 36 shots at Giguere.
Anaheim all-star and former Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Chris Pronger was back in the lineup after missing seven games with a broken left toe. Pronger was hurt during a post-game workout on March 4.
The Stars’ Sergei Zubov had tied it 1-1 with an unassisted goal on a first-period power play shortly after Kunitz had put the Ducks ahead.
Kunitz scored his first goal with eight seconds remaining on a power play.
The Ducks, who came into the league as an expansion franchise in 1993, made it into the playoffs for the fifth time and second year in a row—marking the first time they’ve been in the postseason in consecutive seasons. … Giguere tied his career high in wins with 34. … Anaheim has a 38-12-9 record with Pronger in the lineup, a 6-7-3 mark when he’s out. … Dallas was coming off a 4-2 win over Los Angeles that finished a sweep of all eight games against the Kings this season.