DENVER – The Anaheim Ducks pushed aside the slumping Colorado Avalanche to earn another two points in the Western Conference standings.
Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and two assists, and Corey Perry and Saku Koivu each had a goal and an assist and Anaheim shook off a poor start to beat the Avalanche 6-2 on Friday night.
“These are all must-wins for us,” Getzlaf said. “We can’t afford to take anybody lightly in this league and we were victims of that to start this game. The first period we were sitting back. Guys did a great job of turning it around in the second period.
“It’s all about how you finish and we were able to get things done tonight.”
Bobby Ryan, Brad Winchester and Dan Sexton also scored, Teemu Selanne and Luca Sbisa each had two assists and Dan Ellis made 24 saves. The Ducks are ninth in the Western Conference, two points behind Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix and Calgary.
With a logjam at the bottom of the playoff race, the Ducks realize they can’t ease up, not even when playing the struggling Avalanche, who have lost 17 of 18 and eight straight at home.
“We can’t afford to miss points when everybody else is winning around us,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “That’s the situation we’re in. We can’t afford to give up points at this point of the season.”
David Jones and Ryan O’Reilly scored for Colorado, and Brian Elliott made 27 saves. The Avalanche have just two wins since Jan. 18 and only six wins since the calendar flipped to 2011.
“We’ve had handful of games that we’ve played like this, at home especially,” Jones said. “It’s not fair for our fans, to come out and play like this. Its frustrating. It’s disappointing.”
Things started well for the Avalanche. O’Reilly opened the scoring with 44 seconds left in the first period, but the Ducks scored four goals in the first 10:13 of the second to take a 4-2 lead.
They tied it when Selanne fed a driving Koivu in the slot for a one-timer just 34 seconds into the period. Getzlaf made it 2-1 with a power-play goal at 3:26, his 17th goal of the season.
The Avalanche tied it when Paul Stastny fed Jones in front of the Anaheim net, and he chipped the puck past Ellis for his team-leading 24th goal of the season.
Seconds later, Getzlaf stole the puck from Matt Duchene along the boards and sent a pass to Perry, who beat Elliott for his 34th goal of the season.
“Getzie made a great play on the wall and knocked Duchene off the puck and created the turnover,” Perry said. “I was hollering for it and he found me. Took a wrist shot and it found its way in.”
Sexton made it 4-2 with his fourth goal.
“A team gets a couple of quick goals on you the momentum turns pretty quick,” Getzlaf said. “It’s tough to stay motivated.”
Ryan and Winchester scored midway through the second period to make it 6-2.
The news didn’t get any better for the Avalanche. They lost Milan Hejduk to a shoulder injury in the second period and Stastny left the game in the third with a back injury.
“What else can I say about the injuries?” Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. “I don’t want to use it as an excuse, but there a number of injuries that we’ve had to deal with this year and they’re tough to overcome.”
The Ducks can catch a few teams over the next eight days. Three of their next four games are against the Coyotes, Kings and Flames.
“Two points for us is huge every night, especially in the position we’re at,” Perry said. “It’s going to be a grind right to the playoffs. It’s playoff hockey right now and that’s how we have to play.”
NOTES: Anaheim is 7-2-0 in its last nine road games. … Colorado defenceman John-Michael Liles (leg injury) sat out for the first time this season. … The Avalanche are the only NHL team to not have a game decided by shootout on home ice.