In the words of the perpetually young Teemu Selanne, you never know what’s going to happen with the Ducks.
Anaheim continued to switch things up with a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars with just 3.8 seconds remaining. Lubomir Visnovsky had the game winning goal, as well as his second career hat trick, to help the Ducks come back from a 3-1 deficit.
The Ducks began the evening one point behind their division rivals and in 11th place in the Western Conference. These two points, as with all the others, were critical.
Visnovsky got his first goal of the game at 9:22 of the first period when Dan Sexton helped to screen Kari Lehtonen. Taking the 1-0 lead into the second period, the Ducks fell flat.
Dallas scored the next three goals to take a commanding lead. Jamie Benn, who is having a breakout season, scored his 15th of the year 15 2:23 with a nice redirect from Alex Goligoski.
Adam Burish, wearing a full cage to protect a broken orbital bone, gave the Stars their first lead at 10:35. Loui Eriksson added a power play goal at 18:37 and Dallas appeared to have all the momentum heading into the final period.
Then again, you never know what’s going to happen with the Ducks.
Visnovsky added a power play goal at 5:24, ripping his shot over Lehtonen’s shoulder. Time started to wind down, but the Ducks had a little more in the tank.
Selanne got his 400th goal in an Anaheim uniform with 1:03 left in the game. Visnovsky? Had a crucial assist on the play to give him his first four point game.
The Stars, who thought they were going to pull away with two points, were not happy to take the game to overtime. Dan Ellis preserved the second point for the Ducks with a spectacular save, batting away the puck on a 2 on 1 breakaway that seemed to seal the deal for Dallas. Of all his 23 saves, that one was clearly the biggest of the evening.
Instead of going to the locker room to celebrate, Tom Wandell took a hooking penalty with less than a minute remaining in the extra period. The Ducks took advantage of the opportunity.
Ryan Getzlaf won the face off and got the puck back to Visnovsky, who hammered it home. Game over. Hats came pouring down for the first ever hat trick by an Anaheim defenseman, while his teammates poured over the boards to congratulate the beaming Slovakian.
“Wow, it’s awesome,” said a bright-eyed Visnovsky. “It was a lucky night for me. I’m so happy to score three goals tonight.”
Both Visnovsky and Selanne agreed that overtime victories in the past two games will be a big confidence boost for the team.
“You have to believe,” Selanne said, “and get the feeling as a team that you’re going to come back. It doesn’t matter what the score is. That is what happened tonight.”
It was the second game in a row that the Ducks came back from a deficit to eventually win the game. How can that not boost confidence?
“Every point is important to our team,” said Visnovsky, who is keenly aware of the clogged playoff race in the Western Conference.
Only four points separate 4th to 11th place in the standings. The teams are ping-ponging over one another nightly and look to continue to do so until the very last game is played in the regular season.
Until then, the Ducks have to continue to battle, and the battle continues against Vancouver on Sunday. The Canucks just happen to hold the best record in the NHL this season. Then again, it’s the Ducks, and you never know what will happen.
In other notes: Saku Koivu remains out with a groin strain, but Jason Blake also joined him on the sidelines with a hand laceration. No news on when either player will be available once again.