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Hiller shuts the door as Ducks blank Red Wings

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Associated Press
3/15/2012 1:38:15 AM
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ANAHEIM, Calif. - Although the Anaheim Ducks' playoff chances are shrinking by the day, they're still winning games with style and providing hope for their future.

The Detroit Red Wings still can't snap out of the slump that could begin to affect their own post-season plans.

Jonas Hiller made 23 saves in his 15th career shutout, rookie Kyle Palmieri scored two goals, and the Ducks kept their faint playoff hopes flickering with a 4-0 victory over the struggling Red Wings on Wednesday night.

Teemu Selanne scored his 660th career goal and Bobby Ryan also scored as the Ducks shut out the Red Wings at home for the first time in Anaheim's franchise history. Playing without injured MVP Corey Perry, the Ducks also snapped a three-game skid with a thrashing of injury-depleted Detroit, which has lost five of six.

"All we can do is win as many games as possible," said Hiller, who posted his fourth shutout of the season in his 30th consecutive start. "You have to take care of it on our end, and hope that's going to be enough."

The Ducks' recent 2-5-1 slump reduced their playoff chances to a sliver, leaving them nine points out of eighth place in the West even after this win. They're still among the NHL's best teams in 2012 (20-9-5) after their awful start to the season.

Selanne has managed to keep the Ducks' season interesting as well. With childhood idol Jari Kurri watching from the Honda Center stands, the 41-year-old Selanne added another accolade to his impressive season with his 1,400th career point, including a team-leading 60 this season, when he crashed the net and scored the opening goal.

Selanne posed with the latest historic puck to add to what must be an epic stack of rubber in his trophy case or garage, but he was more excited about a possible breakthrough game for Palmieri, his fellow right wing and the Ducks' top draft pick in 2009.

"Kyle is a great skater, has an unbelievable shot, really sees the game well," Selanne said. "He doesn't have any weaknesses. He has all the tools, and I'm expecting he's going to be really good in this league."

Palmieri still leads the AHL in goals after his latest callup to Anaheim last week, and he produced his first multigoal NHL performance in his 23rd career game. He's stuck behind Perry and Selanne on the Ducks' depth chart at right wing, but he scored twice while filling in for Perry on a line with Ryan and captain Ryan Getzlaf, who had two assists.

"The confidence definitely feels good," Palmieri said. "Hopefully, going forward, I can keep making an impact on the game and help this team put together a nice win streak. ... With Selanne and Perry out there, it's tough -- basically impossible -- to make it into that top-six right wing spot, (so) it's a big opportunity for me. Hopefully I can keep playing this way and earn my spot in the lineup."

Perry missed his second straight game, and defenceman Luca Sbisa also is sidelined with an upper-body injury.

Joey MacDonald stopped 20 shots for the Red Wings, whose slump hasn't knocked them out of fourth place in the Western Conference. Still, Detroit is seven points behind St. Louis in the Central Division standings with just 11 games to go.

The Red Wings travelled to the West Coast with a chance to sweep their season series with both Southern California clubs, but instead will limp to the Bay Area with two losses by a combined 9-2.

"We made it way too easy on them," Niklas Kronwall said. "We put ourselves in trouble. We kept making mistakes, and they had way too much time."

The Red Wings again played without stars Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk, and goalie Jimmy Howard rested one night after looking shaky in a 5-2 loss at Los Angeles in his return from a one-week absence with a groin injury. Veteran forward Todd Bertuzzi returned to Detroit's lineup after missing four games with a lower-body injury.

Detroit's power play also went 0 for 3, extending its scoreless streak to 0 for 28 since Feb. 28.

"We didn't have enough guys working hard enough, with enough good structure," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "You've got to give Hiller credit. He made three unbelievable saves tonight, or the game could have been tighter and gone differently. The reality is we are not playing hard enough or with good enough structure, and therefore we don't seem very skilled."

Lubomir Visnovsky picked up an assist on Ryan's goal, snapping the Slovak defenceman's 15-game scoreless skid. Visnovsky, who led all NHL defencemen in scoring last season, hadn't scored since Feb. 12 and has contributed just one goal in 2012.

NOTES: Selanne scored his 23rd goal of the season, tying him with Gordie Howe's 1969-70 performance for the second-most prolific season by an NHL player over 40. ... Before the game, the Ducks honoured C Saku Koivu for playing in his 1,000th NHL game Monday in Colorado. ... Anaheim has won 12 of 15 at home, while the Red Wings have lost seven of their last eight road games.

Jonas Hiller (Photo: Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)
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