Third Line’s the Charm Against Phoenix

Christmas break?  What Christmas break?  

The Ducks did not lose a single step after four days off between games in a 3-2 overtime win over Phoenix.   The victory increased their home record to 14-0-2 and keeps them on top of the NHL with 10 consecutive wins in a row. 

Ten wins in a row doesn't happen very often.  Chicago did it in 2012-2013 with 11 wins and San Jose had 11 wins in 2007-2008. 

"It only happens once or twice a season," said defenseman Ben Lovejoy.  "Not a lot of teams do it.  We want to continue.  We want to get to 11 tomorrow."

Eleven would be against the San Jose Sharks in yet another away game that will mark the midway point of the season for Anaheim. 

What seemed an obvious win for Anaheim in the first 55 minutes of the game, did not appear as obvious in the last five.  However, the third line of Saku Koivu, Andrew Cogliano and Daniel Winnik did the job to secure the win, as they did the rest of the game.

Despite some terrific chances against Thomas Greiss, who was very busy all night long, making 38 saves in the game, the Ducks were unable to put anything behind him until late in the first period.

Going short-handed for the first time in the game didn't mean anything to Anaheim.  Koivu scored at 17:08 from a beautiful pass from Winnik to give the Ducks the lead.

Cogliano made it 2-0 at 5:04 of the third period redirected Winnik's shot behind Greiss.   And all looked well.  For a bit.

"For 55 minutes we were really good and we felt like we weren't giving them much," said Cogliano.  "You get an odd goal and a you let down a bit but the bottom line is you get the win, no matter how you do it."

The odd goal came from Martin Hanzal at 15:26.  With Jonas Hiller farther out of the net than he should have been, the puck caromed oddly off the boards.  Hanzal took advantage of the gaping net, although Hiller managed to get his stick on it.  The puck was a quick in and out off the crossbar, but it was in enough to cross the line and count.

The Coyotes, getting some life from the goal, pulled Greiss for the extra attacker.   With under a minute remaining, Mike Ribiero deflected the goal past Hiller to tie things up and steal at least a point.

The game that should have been won in regulation now headed into overtime. 

Once again, the third line stepped up to the plate.  Koivu got his second of the game :51 seconds into the extra period, tipping in Lovejoy's shot past Greiss. 

"I wish I could play every shift the rest of my career with him," said Lovejoy, who contributed all game long.  "(Koivu) is so good defensively, he makes everything easier and he really had a big game tonight."

Koivu has been strong since coming back from a concussion earlier this season.  He has four goals and seven points in his last five games. 

"You're trying to forget what happened," said Koivu of allowing the Coyotes to get back into the game.  "We had a 2-0 lead.  You knew there was a good chance there was going to be an overtime, so you start thinking about that."

Forethought paid off and Ducks continue rolling along.

Will it be number 11 on Sunday?


About Karen Francis

Just a diehard Ducks fan since 1995, when the team filled the hockey shaped vacuum in my heart.