ANAHEIM (AP) — Ondrej Kase scored the tiebreaking goal on a rebound with 3:56 to play, and the Anaheim Ducks clinched their sixth consecutive playoff berth with a 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night.
Kase secured his first 20-goal season by jumping on a long rebound of Josh Manson’s shot, and Andrew Cogliano added an empty-net goal with 2:13 left. Ryan Miller made 26 saves in his first start since March 9 for the Ducks, who have won eight of 10 in their usual late-season surge to the playoffs.
Nick Ritchie also scored, and Manson had two assists as the Ducks officially extended the NHL’s second-longest streak of consecutive postseason berths. Anaheim also leapfrogged archrival Los Angeles into third place in the Pacific Division, leading by one point with two games to play for both clubs.
Matt Dumba scored a power-play goal and Devan Dubnyk stopped 28 shots for the Wild, who took their fifth loss in seven games during what turned out to be a meaningless contest for the playoff-bound club.
When the St. Louis Blues’ loss to Chicago ended during the first period in Anaheim, Minnesota was locked into third place in the Central Division, clinching a first-round matchup with either Winnipeg or Nashville.
The Blues’ result also clinched a playoff berth for the Kings, and it meant the Ducks would be able to clinch as well. Coach Randy Carlyle’s club didn’t miss the chance, even while playing without several injured regulars.
Ducks goalie John Gibson sat out with an upper-body injury that doesn’t appear to be serious, and Miller coolly picked up his second straight victory after coming on in relief for Gibson on Sunday.
Both teams were without their top defensemen. Minnesota’s Ryan Suter missed his second straight game with the broken ankle that ended his season last week.
Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler missed his first game since Nov. 19 with a shoulder injury. He will be out for two to six weeks, possibly depriving Anaheim of its top blueliner deep into the playoffs.
The Ducks’ streak of five consecutive Pacific Division titles was ended by Vegas this season, but Anaheim’s veteran lineup remains a foreboding matchup for any playoff opponent. The Ducks still have most of the core that reached the Western Conference finals twice in the past three seasons.
After a scoreless first period, Dumba put a long shot past Miller’s glove shortly after Ryan Getzlaf’s tripping penalty put Minnesota on the power play.
The goal was Dumba’s 13th of the season, extending his career best. It also was his second goal of the season at Honda Center, where he scored the overtime winner for Minnesota on Dec. 8.
Nearly seven minutes later, the Ducks evened it by getting traction in front of Dubnyk. With Adam Henrique’s help, Ritchie got credit for his 10th goal of the season.
NOTES: With Fowler out and Kevin Bieksa still recovering from surgery on his left hand, D Andy Welinski appeared in his fifth career NHL game for Anaheim. Welinski had been down in the AHL since Dec. 19. … Minnesota F Luke Kunin had surgery Tuesday repairing a torn ligament in his left knee. He will need 6-7 months of recovery time, the team said. He was hurt March 4 in a game against Detroit. … Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau lost at Honda Center for the first time in three visits since the Ducks fired him in 2016 after a first-round exit from the playoffs. Boudreau won a division title in each of his four full seasons in Anaheim.
Wild: At the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.
Ducks: Host the Dallas Stars on Friday in their regular-season home finale.
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