Ducks use extra time off to get into playoff mind-set

Ducks use extra time off to get into playoff mind-set
Ducks forward Matt Beleskey returned to practice Tuesday after missing the last three game with a lower-body injury. (Jay LaPrete / Associated Press)

A palpable push for the playoffs was at work Monday for the Ducks, who used the third of four consecutive days off to grind through a two-hour practice.

"Attention to detail in all areas of our game," center Ryan Kesler said after a practice that lasted so long a Zamboni resurfacing was required midway through. "Staying in game mode … you can go about these four days two ways: you can relax and take time off or continue to get better.

"We got better today."

The Ducks (50-23-7) lead the Western Conference by two points over the Central Division-leading St. Louis Blues, who have three home games remaining compared with Anaheim's two against playoff outsiders Dallas and Arizona.

The Kings, Minnesota, Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg are in contention to be the Ducks' first-round opponents. Kesler says it doesn't matter who shows up at Honda Center next week.

"It's about us," he said. "Any team we play is going to be a great hockey club. We just need to play our game. That's why it's good to have these days here to work on our game, get ready and focus on playing the right way. We do that, we'll be good."

Coach Bruce Boudreau said his opening-night playoff roster is "in my mind," including the goaltender, but declined to reveal names.

At Tuesday's practice, forward Matt Beleskey returned from an undisclosed lower-body injury after a three-game absence and was on the first line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Forward Tim Jackman, sidelined since March 1 because of a leg injury, skated on the fourth line.

"Everything feels great," said Beleskey, who has 22 goals. "We've always played pretty good together. See how it goes, how long it stays."

Jackman will be evaluated by a doctor Tuesday, he said, and hopes to be cleared to play versus Dallas on Wednesday.

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