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Ducks secure a spot in playoffs with 3-2 win over New York Islanders

Ducks clinch postseason spot with 3-2 victory over New York Islanders

So, Kyle Palmieri, you must have been happy that the Ducks secured a playoff berth Saturday with their 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.

"Didn't know that," said the energetic winger, who scored on a lunging backhander at 1:46 of the second period.

Okay then. Andrew Cogliano, your backhander at 15:12 of the second period was decisive in the victory that put the Ducks in the playoffs. Locking up a postseason berth must feel good, right?

"That's nice," Cogliano said politely.

It was appropriate that making the playoffs didn't trigger celebrations among the Ducks, who took the NHL lead in wins (48) and points (103) by defeating the surprisingly flat Islanders. "The way the regular season has gone the last couple years it's good, but now the real work starts," Cogliano said.

But they were entitled the smiles they wore Saturday after their league-leading 31st one-goal victory because of the improvement they've shown in key areas during the past two games.

After struggling to kill penalties and yielding two power-play goals Thursday in a 3-2 victory at Boston, the Ducks killed four disadvantages Saturday, including a five-on-three that lasted a minute and 54 seconds in the second period. That was part of an exemplary effort in the middle period, their weakest all season. Goaltender Frederik Andersen produced his second straight impressive performance, highlighted by superb saves on close-in shots by Ryan Strome and John Tavares in quick succession during that lengthy Islanders power play.

"If it wasn't for those saves, it could be a different game," Cogliano said. "He stepped up. He did a good job. I thought our penalty kill was probably the difference tonight because we had a bunch of them."

Goals by Palmieri — who was born in nearby Smithtown — and Cogliano allowed the Ducks to take control in the second period and supported Andersen, who began this trip by getting an early hook after he gave up three goals on seven shots in a 7-2 loss to the New York Rangers. His thoughts during the Islanders' five-on-three were as sharp as his movements.

"You've just got to keep battling," he said. "They're going to have some opportunities, and you've got to do what you can to make those saves and use it as momentum for us. We came back and scored a couple goals after that.

"It's nice to get those saves and help the team get a win because it was a tight point of the game."

Andersen has given Coach Bruce Boudreau plenty to consider in deciding whether to start him or John Gibson when the playoffs begin. That's a happily difficult situation.

"For Freddie's mind-set it was huge," Boudreau said. "He came in in a tough situation, on the road, when the team wasn't exactly going well, being pulled in his last outing, and I thought he played two stellar games. It could have changed quickly in that five-on-three, and he made three 10-bell saves."

Playing their final regular-season game at the arena the Islanders will vacate next season to move to Brooklyn, the Ducks took a 1-0 lead when Rickard Rakell's centering pass hit Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy and deflected past Michal Neuvirth at 8:23 of the first period. The Islanders tied it at 17:08, when Lubomir Visnovsky's long blast deflected off Ducks defenseman Simon Despres and past Andersen.

Palmieri restored the Ducks' lead at 1:46 of the second period, and Andersen kept them in the game until Cogliano made it 3-1. Casey Cizikas capitalized on a turnover to make it close at 14:24 of the third period, but the Ducks held on to tie franchise records for road wins (23) and points (50) and clinch that playoff spot, even if they didn't make a fuss about it.

"I think we knew we were in the playoffs. It was just a matter of where we were going to finish," center Ryan Getzlaf said. "It doesn't change anything for us. We just keep playing and keep doing the things that we're doing these last couple games."

DUCKS AT NEW JERSEY

When: 4 p.m. PDT Sunday

On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 830.

Update: The Ducks conclude this five-game trip at the Prudential Center. They're 2-2 so far. In their previous game against the Devils this season, Jakob Silfverberg scored two goals in a 5-1 victory Jan. 16 at Honda Center. The Devils, who played at Carolina Saturday night, are close to being eliminated from the playoffs for the third straight season. General Manager Lou Lamoriello, who became an interim coach in late December, has continued in that role alongside Adam Oates and Scott Stevens.

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