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Ducks, Canucks storm ahead

THE Anaheim Ducks continued their strong National Hockey League postseason with a 2-1 home victory over defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit in their Western Conference semifinal on Tuesday.

Anaheim netminder Jonas Hiller made 45 saves as the hosts took a 2-1 lead over the Red Wings in their best-of-seven series. Game 4 is scheduled for tomorrow, also in Anaheim.

In the other Western semifinal, the Vancouver Canucks beat the hosts Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 to also take a 2-1 series lead.

Hiller, who had 59 saves in Sunday's 4-3 triple-overtime win, stopped 16 of Detroit's 17 shots in the second period and all 18 in a scoreless third, including a controversial no-goal.

"We all knew he (Hiller) could do it," Ducks forward Corey Perry told reporters. "He's showing everyone now."

The Red Wings thought they had tied the score with 1:04 to play.

Referee Brad Watson lost sight of the puck and blew the play dead just before Detroit's Marian Hossa's shot found net.

"We got two (goals), they got two, but we're not playing (overtime)," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.

"There's no sense worrying about that now. We controlled the majority of the game. But two nights in a row, we could have been better at the start."

Teemu Selanne gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead in the first period with his third goal of the ongoing playoffs and Scott Niedermayer's tip-in on a powerplay made it 2-0 at 8:16 of the second.

Detroit responded with a powerplay goal six minutes later on Henrik Zetterberg's wrist shot.

In Chicago, it's a hockey tradition. The crowd roars during the National Anthem, reaching ear-splitting decibels and creating a frenetic atmosphere to start the game.

For the Blackhawks, the boost didn't last long.

Instead, they fell behind - as they have in all three games of the series against the Canucks. And this time, they couldn't catch up.

Roberto Luongo made the early lead stand and the Canucks forged a 3-1 victory.

"You can't do it in this league. We're not going to come back on one of the best goaltenders in the league," said defenseman Brian Campbell, who had Chicago's lone goal on a powerplay. "We've got to come out and be ready, not take penalties. We've got to learn pretty quick or we're not going to hang around too long."

Game 4 is back at the United Center tomorrow before the series returns to Vancouver for Game 5.

After surrendering eight goals in the first two games of the series in Vancouver, Luongo finished with 23 saves on Tuesday, including a spectacular stop on Dave Bolland when the Blackhawks had a powerplay early in the third period.

Campbell's slapper from the high circle on a powerplay cut the lead to 3-1, and a crowd that had been quiet for most of the night quickly erupted, hoping that another comeback was on its way.

But Luongo didn't let it happen.

The Blackhawks had rallied from 0-3 and 0-2 deficits in Games 1 and 2 and earned a split.

Mason Raymond scored for the Canucks late in the first and Steve Bernier's goal during a powerplay early in the second put Vancouver up by two.

Henrik Sedin's fourth goal of the playoffs made it 3-0 in the second.


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