LOS ANGELES (AP) — Corey Perry and Nick Ritchie scored, Frederik Andersen stopped all 24 shots he faced, and the Anaheim Ducks clinched the Pacific Division on the final day of the regular season by beating the Washington Capitals 2-0 on Sunday night.
The Ducks will face the Nashville Predators in the first round of the playoffs, leaving the second-place Los Angeles Kings to play the San Jose Sharks. This is Anaheim’s fourth consecutive division title under coach Bruce Boudreau.
Andersen looked sharp in his return from a five-game absence because of a concussion. He faced little resistance from a Capitals team that rested star forwards Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom and defensemen John Carlson and Brooks Orpik.
The Capitals also sat goaltender Braden Holtby after he tied Martin Brodeur’s single-season wins record. Backup Philipp Grubauer stopped 19 of 21 shots.
The Ducks sent starting goalie John Gibson and banged-up center Ryan Kesler back to California after beating the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday in Denver. Had the Kings beaten the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night, Anaheim would have had nothing to play for, just like the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals.
Instead, Los Angeles blew a three-goal lead and lost in overtime, leading Boudreau to play a majority of his regulars in game 82. Perry didn’t disappoint, scoring his 34th goal of the season 4:34 into the second period.
Fourth-liners contributed, too, as Mike Santorelli’s shot deflected in off Ritchie 2:02 later to give the Ducks the comfortable lead they needed. As important as winning the division and ensuring home-ice advantage through the first two rounds, they came out of their regular-season finale without another injury.
The Capitals, who will face the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round, went through the motions to make sure of that, as well. They fell to 13-14-2 in their 29th game without Ovechkin, who reached 50 goals for the seventh season of his career.
Ovechkin has been dealing with a nagging lower-body injury for several months, one that caused him to skip the All-Star Game in January. Backstrom recently missed three games with an upper-body injury, while Orpik and John Carlson each missed significant time this season with lower-body injuries.
NOTES: The Ducks won the William M. Jennings Trophy given to the team that allows the fewest goals. … Boudreau won his seventh division title as many chances when coaching a team for a full season, dating to his time with the Capitals. … Capitals F Justin Williams was honored before playing his 1,000th regular-season NHL game. In addition to a video tribute, he was presented with a commemorative crystal and a silver stick.
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