Scott Niedermayer, the NHL's playoff MVP, will rejoin the Anaheim Ducks after sitting out the first 28 games of the season.

Ducks general manager Brian Burke announced Niedermayer's decision at a news conference a half-hour before last night's home game with the Buffalo Sabres.

The defenseman had taken time off to decide whether he wanted to retire; he wasn't at the arena for the announcement.

"We view it as a very important day for us," Burke said. "We respect the battle that Scotty has fought over the decision right from the get-go. We're obviously thrilled."

Niedermayer, 34, has 2 years and $13.5 million remaining on his contract. According to league rules, the Ducks suspended him without pay because he did not report to training camp.

Burke said he was not disturbed that Niedermayer took the time off.

"He deserves that respect," Burke said. "He's going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer."

The GM estimated Niedermayer would be ready to play his first game in 7 to 10 days.

In last night's games:

* At Columbus, Dan Fritsche's goal with 4:05 to play capped a wild six-goal third period in the Blue Jackets' 5-4 comeback victory over Colorado.

* At Anaheim, Andy McDonald had a goal and an assist, Mathieu Schneider and Corey Perry scored power-play goals, and the Ducks beat Buffalo, 4-1.

* At Newark, N.J., Patrik Elias scored his second goal of the game with 1:44 left in overtime as the Devils extended their winning streak to eight with a 4-3 victory over Boston.

* At Glendale, Ariz., Peter Mueller had a goal and two assists, and Phoenix beat Los Angeles, 4-1, to snap a four-game losing streak.

* At Edmonton, Pittsburgh overcame a 2-0 deficit with four goals in the third period en route to a 4-2 win over the Oilers.

* At Atlanta, the Thrashers overcame nine wasted power plays to beat the New York Islanders, 4-3, in a shootout. Slava Kozlov and Ilya Kovalchuk scored in the shootout for Atlanta, while Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen stopped Bill Guerin and Miroslav Satan.

_ At Sunrise, Fla., Randy Robitaille scored twice and Ray Emery stopped a penalty shot as Ottawa snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 5-4 win over the Panthers.

* At Dallas, Joe Thornton's third-period goal gave San Jose a 3-2 victory over the Stars.

* At Chicago, Brendan Morrison scored the game-winner early in the third period as Vancouver topped the Blackhawks, 3-2. *