With a 5-3 come from behind victory over the New York Islanders, the Ducks keep rolling along. This win, another on the road, gives them streak of eight straight games, a franchise best for the team.
Playing in the second back to back games, things looked a little iffy for Anaheim.
The Islanders might be at the bottom of their conference, but they are still a very talented team. If they could figure out how to keep a lead, rather than giving it up, they would be a lot better off in the standings.
Coming off an inspiring win against the New York Rangers, the Islanders were a motivated team. Thomas Vanek put the Islanders on the board at 11:27 of the first period putting in a rebound past Frederik Andersen, who gave Jonas Hiller the night off.
"That first period, they came out pretty strong," said Ryan Getzlaf, who tied up the game at 15:10 of the second period. "They’re a skating group and they’ve got some talented players up front who can score goals. They jumped on us early, but we kept our composure, stayed with our game plan, and were able to get it done."
Even with a tie game, the Islanders continued to press and were rewarded for their efforts. A second goal from Vanek at 17:55 should have been a short handed goal, but came :02 seconds after John Tavares' penalty expired. Less than a minute later Frans Nielsen scored, giving the Islanders a two goal lead going into the third period.
Unfortunately for the Islanders, they have blown leads in the third period before, and this turned out to be another one of those times.
Anaheim, with some "lead by exampleism" from the captain, scored four unanswered goals in the final twenty minutes of the game, giving them the victory.
"He put it upon himself that he was going to take this team," praised coach Bruce Boudreau.
"Everybody rode with him. He was the catalyst for sure. He wasn’t going to be denied."
Getzlaf got the party going at 1:10 to put the Ducks back within one goal. It also immediately harkened to the Islanders inability to hold leads and planted that seed of "here we go again" in their minds. Six times the Islanders have had a two goal lead in a game at home and six times they have lost it, being outscored 43-22 in the third period.
Winning teams find ways to win. Losing tems find ways to lose.
A goal from Mathieu Perreault at 10:32 tied things up again. Then Kyle Palmieri, netting his second game winning goal in as many games, gave the Ducks their first lead of the night at 13:44. Both times Palmieri scored in front of plenty of family and friends (Palmieri was born on Long Island and grew up in New Jersey.)
After taking plenty of chances to get back in the game, the Ducks then switched gears and did an outstanding job of showing why they are tops in the NHL. The Islanders could learn a thing or two from Anaheim.
With Evgeni Nabokov out of the net for the extra attacker, Getzlaf got the empty netter with :22 seconds remaining to earn his second career hat trick and sealed the victory for his team.
"It was big," said Getzlaf. "Our group did a great job keeping our composure throughout this game. It’s a nice feeling to have in the locker room when you’re pretty confident that your group can come back in any situation. We proved it tonight."
The Ducks now have one more road game before the Christmas break. They head to the Washington Capitals, Boudreau's former team, on Monday. Their goal is to make it nine in a row, a good Christmas present indeed for the team and its fans.