- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 5, 2009

SAN JOSE, CALIF. (AP) - Ryan Getzlaf set up goals by Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne, and the Anaheim Ducks stayed in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race with a 5-2 victory over the NHL-leading San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

Ryan scored two goals _ including the 30th of just his second NHL season _ in the resurgent Ducks’ 10th win in 12 games, keeping them in seventh place in the conference standings. Mike Brown also scored, and Jonas Hiller made 28 saves for Anaheim, which has scored 20 goals during a four-game winning streak capped by this convincing victory in the league’s toughest road arena.

Joe Thornton and Milan Michalek scored for the Sharks, whose lead over Boston for the league’s best record stands at one point with four games to play.

Evgeni Nabokov stopped 23 shots, but San Jose lost at home in regulation for just the fourth time all season in the first leg of a home-and-home series with Anaheim, which will host the Sharks on Sunday night.

Just two weeks ago, Anaheim seemed likely to miss the playoffs two seasons after winning the Stanley Cup. Now, they’re looming as a nightmare first-round matchup _ perhaps with the Sharks, who had won three of four against their longtime rivals before Getzlaf, who had four assists, and his high-scoring line shredded their defense.

Ryan and Perry both reached 30 goals for the first time for the Ducks, who are one point behind sixth-place Columbus and two ahead of Nashville and St. Louis with three games to play.

With just eight days left in the regular season, San Jose began a five-game sprint to the finish with an unimpressive effort while missing injured captain Patrick Marleau and forwards Ryane Clowe and Mike Grier. The Sharks are six points in front of Detroit for the conference lead, but they’re barely ahead of the Bruins in their chase of the franchise’s first Presidents’ Trophy.

San Jose’s NHL-best home record slipped to 31-4-4 with the loss, which also snapped a three-game winning streak. The Sharks’ 4-1 loss to Dallas on March 3 was their only other three-goal loss at home this season.

The Ducks’ offense largely revolved around Getzlaf, who increased his team-leading points total to 89 with a series of exceptional passes that gave him 10 assists in Anaheim’s last five games.

Ryan, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2005 draft, put the Ducks ahead less than 3 minutes in with a one-timer off a slick no-look pass from Getzlaf behind the net. Perry then got his 30th goal 3 minutes later on another setup from Getzlaf.

Thornton pulled the Sharks back with his 25th goal, and Michalek tied it early in the second period with a power play tally, but Brown quickly put the Ducks back ahead on a shot that was going wide before it hit the stick of Sharks center Tomas Plihal and sneaked inside the post. Selanne added his 26th goal on another sharp pass from Getzlaf during 4-on-4 play late in the second.

Ryan added a power play goal late in the third period, giving him 30. The New Jersey native scored five in 23 games as a rookie last season.

The mini-series concludes Sunday night at the Pond, where San Jose beat Anaheim 1-0 on March 15 on a goal by Travis Moen, who was traded from the Ducks to the Sharks at the deadline. Kent Huskins, the defenseman also sent to San Jose in the deal, still hasn’t played for the Sharks while recovering from foot surgery, but is practicing in hopes of a late-season appearance.

Notes:@ The 24-year-old Perry finished with 29 goals last season. … On Michalek’s goal, Nabokov picked up an assist, his first of the season. … San Jose’s next victory would be its 52nd, setting a club record.

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