Ducks still in driver’s seat to win Pacific and avoid Kings in first round

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Even after consecutive losses to non-playoff teams Nashville and Edmonton, the Anaheim Ducks still have a good chance to win the Pacific Division. Tonight, they face another bottom-half-of-the-league side in Vancouver. Anaheim has won all four meetings with the Canucks this season.

And make no mistake, the Ducks should really want to win the Pacific Division. Do that and they’d avoid a tough first-round match-up with postseason-proven Los Angeles, leaving the Sharks and Kings, two strong Stanley Cup hopefuls, to battle each other for a spot in the second round. Currently, Anaheim is most likely to face Minnesota in the opening round.

The Ducks control their own destiny. Earn five points out of a possible eight in their final four games and they’ll clinch first, even if San Jose wins all three of its remaining games.

Rookie goalie John Gibson will make his NHL debut against the Canucks after Jonas Hiller struggled versus the Predators and Oilers, allowing seven goals on just 37 shots.

“It’s tough. I thought [Hiller] played well in the first period,” coach Bruce Boudreau said Sunday after the 4-2 defeat in Edmonton. “Then there were a couple in the second that he could have had. Then in the third, he regained his form again. It’s one of those things where he’s really lacking in confidence, and once the first one went in, he was a little worried until he regained his composure.”

While injured defenseman Cam Fowler won’t play tonight, he’s expected to return sometime this week.