NHL

Matt Beleskey focuses on hockey, lets agent worry about Ducks talks

Ducks' Matt Beleskey, who'll be unrestricted free agent after season, leaves contract worries to agent

Matt Beleskey continues to increase his value without wanting to know how that price is being established.

The Ducks forward said Tuesday he's told his agent, Murray Kuntz, to continue contract extension talks as Beleskey focuses on hockey.

Beleskey put an end to a season-high five-game goal-less streak by scoring in back-to-back games Friday and Sunday. He has a team-best and career-high 17 goals and has emerged as a viable candidate for NHL All-Star selection on Saturday.

Ducks officials would not discuss the status of contract talks with Beleskey, who'll be an unrestricted free agent at season's end after a two-year deal that has paid him an average of $1.35 million a season.

Anaheim has big contracts with Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and defenseman Cam Fowler, and it's uncertain how deeply the team will invest in Beleskey.

The forward said he embraces the fact that the Ducks (26-9-6) lead the NHL in points and were boosted further by the return of injured right wing Perry, forward Kyle Palmieri and defenseman Francois Beauchemin.

"It's definitely nice to have everyone back," Beleskey said. "It doesn't mean you can let up. When you're in first place, everybody comes in here ready to give you a good game."

Beleskey praised second-line center Ryan Kesler for his role in the breakout season.

"He creates a lot of space, you get more opportunities because of his hard work," Beleskey said. "He carries the puck, is in the neutral zone most of the time and kicks it out to [me]. … I owe a lot of this to him."

Making points

Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen ranks seventh in the NHL on the league's top team with 26 points (nine goals) but said he's devoted little thought to the idea of earning an All-Star nod from the league.

"I don't think about that stuff … we've been playing good as a team, that's what's helped me get points," Vatanen said. "It's a bonus, but it's not in my mind. I haven't been checking on it."

Vatanen's play has helped the Ducks survive the absences of Beauchemin and Ben Lovejoy, and he has five power-play goals thanks to his potent shot.

"There's a lot of good defensemen in the league. His numbers don't say he shouldn't be in," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said.

Carlyle fired

When the Ducks left Toronto after a 6-2 loss on Dec. 16, the Maple Leafs were rolling.

A 3-7 stretch before Tuesday, however, found the team firing Coach Randy Carlyle, the former Anaheim coach who directed the Ducks to the 2007 Stanley Cup.

"It's Toronto, nothing's ever as good as it seems — funny market," Getzlaf said. "Tough to see him let go again. I'm sure he'll find a way to get back in the game at some point. Great coach, he has a future somewhere for sure."

DUCKS VS. NEW YORK RANGERS

When: 7:30 p.m.

On the air: TV: NBC Sports Network; Radio: 830.

Etc.: The defending Eastern Conference champions have won nine of their past 10 games, led by 24-goal scorer Rick Nash, and haven't played since Saturday. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist has five shutouts, veteran Martin St. Louis has 30 points and talented defenseman Ryan McDonagh is back from his shoulder injury.

Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire

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