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Niedermayer's late winner keeps Ducks in hunt

SCOTT Niedermayer scored a breakaway goal in overtime to keep the Anaheim Ducks firmly in the Western Conference playoff picture with a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday.

Playing in a 3-on-3 situation, the Ducks captain slipped past the defense and received a pass before beating goaltender Roberto Luongo for the winning score 3:37 into the extra session.

"I almost lost the puck and just wanted to get it back; I just went down and tried to get it up," veteran defenseman Niedermayer said. "We needed it. Everyone knows the standings, and we're not where we want to be. Now we have to go back to work."

Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller provided a solid foundation for the win with 32 saves as Anaheim snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 32-30-6, pulling within one point of the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. The Canucks (34-23-9) were led by Luongo's 37 stops.

Vancouver fell behind early but refused to give up and Ryan Kesler sent the game into overtime on a backhand goal with just under five minutes remaining.

Teemu Selanne and Ryan Getzlaf both notched their 21st goals of the season, in the first and second period respectively, to give the Ducks an early 2-0 advantage.

Vancouver tied things up in the second period on two quick goals from Alexandre Burrows and Kyle Wellwood before Petteri Nokelainen gave Anaheim a 3-2 lead later in the frame with his first score since last week's trade.

In Chicago, Kris Versteeg broke a tie in the fourth round of a shootout as the Chicago Blackhawks beat Carolina 3-2 to end the Hurricanes' winning streak at four games.

With Carolina on a power play and goalie Cam Ward off for an extra attacker, the Hurricanes' Tuomo Ruutu scored with 26.5 seconds left in regulation to tie at 2.

Chicago's Jonathan Toews and Ruutu traded goals to open the shootout. And then the Blackhawks' Patrick Kane and Carolina's Jussi Jokinen also scored to keep it even.

In Ottawa, Mike Fisher beat Karri Ramo in overtime to give Ottawa a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay for its fourth straight victory.


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