The return of Saku Koivu to Montreal began with a press conference on Friday evening to meet media demands, continued with a standing ovation at the start of the game and ended with the second star of the game in a 4-3 shootout victory for the Ducks.
Montreal, who had not seen Koivu for more than a year and a half since he left as a free agent, was as warm and welcoming to their former captain as they could be. To say it was an emotional night for Koivu would be an understatement.
However, when all was said and done, there was a game to be played and both teams were in need of two points.
Anaheim got on the board first with a power play goal from Cam Fowler that went off two different Canadiens players before landing behind Carey Price at 15:07 of the first period. There was not much Price could do to stop the puck.
The Ducks then had a very good second period. They have played horrible in the middle frame of late, but this time they decided it would go better if they stayed in the game.
Max Pacioretty tied up the game at 7:55 with a power play goal. That goal was significant, because it was only the second time in 36 chances that an opposing team had put a puck in the net with the extra man against Anaheim. Koivu was in the penalty box for one of three penalties he took.
The Ducks got lucky at the end of the period with a rebound goal that Joffrey Lupul shot. It went off Bobby Ryan and in. Ryan, who was at the side of the net, also got a stick in his face by a Canadiens player, but a goal at 16:26 made it feel a lot better.
Corey Perry added another power play goal at 19:43 with an assist from Koivu, giving the Ducks a 3-1 lead going into the third period.
With time winding down, the Canadiens kept pressing and were rewarded with a goal from Mathieu Darche at 16:20. Darche tipped in Yannick Weber’s shot through traffic to put it behind Jonas Hiller, the other All-Star goaltender in the game.
Pulling within one goal, the Canadiens had life and they gave it their all to tie up the game. With Koivu in the box for the third time, Pacioretty once again struck gold. Price had vacated the net to make it a 6 on 4 and the game was tied up with just :12.6 seconds remaining.
Overtime came, overtime went, and the fans who came to see their former captain return certainly got their money’s worth. As the first game of the road trip went in Ottawa, so did this one for the Ducks. Hiller stopped all three Montreal shots in the shootout. Perry missed his shot, but Ryan was successful in his. Two points for the Ducks, who remain in fifth place in the Western Conference.
The Ducks now have one more game in Columbus before heading into the All-Star break. With a win tonight, they are guaranteed at least a .500 record on the four game trip.
In other notes: Timo Pielmeier was recalled to back up Jonas Hiller. Curtis McElhinney left on Friday to be with his wife for the birth of their second child, necessitating the call up.