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Ducks beat Stars 4-3 in shootout to earn Western Conference playoff spot

ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Dallas Stars couldn't end the Anaheim Ducks' playoff hopes this time.

Jonas Hiller made 42 saves, Teemu Selanne scored the deciding goal with a unique move in the shootout, and the Ducks wrapped up a playoff spot with a 4-3 victory over the Stars on Friday night.

Selanne raced in on goalie Marty Turco, stopped and calmly lofted the puck into the net to put Anaheim ahead in the fourth round of the shootout. Hiller then shut down Loui Eriksson to wrap up the win, the 10th for the Ducks in their last 12 games.

"We've been playing like a playoff team the last month," Selanne said. "I think we just woke up at the last second."

Even before the shootout heroics by Selanne, the Ducks clinched the Western Conference playoff spot by securing a single point through the end of regulation after giving up Steve Ott's tying goal with 14 seconds remaining.

Dallas, playing its final game, missed the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

"It's the not the impression we want, not making the playoffs," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "As professionals, you have a responsibility to compete right until the end, and we did that."

The Stars eliminated the Ducks in six games in the opening round of the playoffs last season and fought back from three deficits in their season finale Friday while trying to spoil Anaheim's attempt at securing a playoff spot.

"Obviously we're disappointed, knowing for the last three or four games of the season, we knew our fate," said Dallas centre Mike Modano, skating in his 1,400th NHL game. "We just felt like we were climbing from behind all season long. We were never able to get in a groove, get any momentum or any consistency in our game."

Both teams suffered through inconsistency in the final period Friday.

Anaheim captain Scott Niedermayer gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead early in the period, before Fabian Brunnstrom scored to draw Dallas even. Then just 13 seconds after Brunnstrom's goal, Andrew Ebbett took a feed from Selanne and snapped the puck past Turco to restore the Ducks' one-goal advantage.

Todd Marchant also scored for Anaheim.

The win allowed the Ducks to remain in seventh place in the Western Conference. Anaheim and St. Louis each have 90 points, but the Ducks have the first tiebreaker with two more win than the Blues

Anaheim will close out the regular season Saturday at Phoenix, while the Blues will finish at Colorado on Sunday.

"We're in," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "You work all year. You start in September with your group and you have visions of playing in the playoffs. It's a marathon that we just are about to complete with one more game in Phoenix. It again is an important game for us from a standpoint of improving our position. It's amazing that all of these games have had a certain degree of importance. Tomorrow is no different."

Anaheim has posted a 10-2 mark down the stretch, moving up from 12th place on March 15 to secure their fourth consecutive appearance in post-season play. Hiller has been a big part of that success. He made his sixth straight start for Anaheim, posting a 5-1 record over that span to lead the Ducks' late season surge.

The Ducks also received a big lift Friday when defenceman Francois Beauchemin returned to the lineup after missing 62 games while recovering from a left knee injury. Beauchemin was given a lengthy ovation when he held the puck behind the Ducks' net during his first shift.

"It was unbelievable. I really didn't expect it," Beauchemin said. "I didn't really want to leave the back of the net. The guys were changing, so I just did the control breakout and then I heard the crowd go. I was looking for a fight somewhere, but there wasn't. That was quite something. I appreciate that."

Despite being outshot 17-7 in the first period, the Ducks took an early lead as Marchant took a feed from Rob Niedermayer in the high slot and whisked a wrist shot over Turco's right shoulder 9:50 after the opening faceoff.

Ott tied it during a Dallas power play four minutes into the second.

Notes: Modano is the 30th NHL player to appear in 1,400 games. ... The Ducks finished 20-18-3 at home. The Stars were 16-19-6 on the road.


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