The Anaheim Ducks might have a 17-0-2 record at home, but they came about as close as you can get at blowing that perfect record against the Vancouver Canucks. Good thing this team knows how to come back from a deficit and win games. After a lousy first period, the Ducks were still able to pull off a 4-3 overtime victory.
"When you have a belief you can win, you're never out of the game," said coach Bruce Boudreau.
This is a far cry from just a couple years ago when the fragile Ducks would fall behind and crumble. Boudreau has since taken over and restored confidence to a team that had every ability to win, but not enough faith in themselves.
Not sure what is happening with Anaheim of late, but coming out of the gate ready to go would be a good thing to work on now.
"If you look at the way we started, we weren’t playing our game," said Corey Perry, who had the game winner in overtime, his first goal since December 17. "We took a couple of penalties and they capitalized right away. Those are things you learn from. You can’t keep doing that and coming back against good teams."
Despite having played the night before, the Canucks took what they were given in the first period and said "thank you very much." Two bad penalties, including a two minutes for being unable to count how many men are on the ice, and Vancouver was up 2-0.
First Ryan Kesler scored at 9:40 on the power play, followed by Henrik Sedin at 11:39. Ouch.
It did not look to get any better from there and you had to wonder, would this be the night that the home winning streak would end?
The Ducks did not allow those thoughts to creep in, though. Jonas Hiller, who got the bulk of his work in the first period, stopped a total of 17 shots and kept Anaheim in the game early on.
After that, goaltender Eddie Lack took over at the other end, stopping 45 shots. How much was he a victim of a shooting gallery that spent minutes in his end? The Ducks outshot the Canucks 40 – 7 in the final two periods. In my opinion, Lack was denied being one of the stars of the game, because he clearly was. If nothing else, he stole a point for Vancouver and nearly stole two.
"He’s been something, hasn’t he?" praised Vancouver coach John Tortarella. "He brought it to another level tonight. You try to find some good stuff and that is certainly some real good stuff there."
The Ducks, who finished the first period far stronger than they started it, kept that energy going into the second period. Saku Koivu put the Ducks on the board :24 seconds into the middle frame.
Despite shooting everything that moved, the game was not tied until late in the second when Matt Beleskey backhanded his shot past Lack at 16:38. Hope!
"We found a way to take over the game in the second," said Perry. "We started skating, started hitting, and getting the pucks in deep. It carried over into the third period. They got that early goal, but we never backed down. We just kept grinding away."
Things looked iffy in the third period when Kevin Bieksa restored the lead to Vancouver once more at 1:06. The Ducks kept coming at Lack, wave after wave after wave. At one point, they spent nearly 5 minutes in the Canucks in, but nothing was getting by him. Denied, stopped, blocked, hit a post, just missed. You name it, it happened, and the score remained 3-2 with the clock ticking down.
Finally the efforts were rewarded, because Lack could not stop everything. Nick Bonino tied up the game at 18:33, deflecting a shot off a sprawled Canucks defenders pants. Bonino had missed a prime opportunity earlier in the game, so the puck going in this time was extra satisfying.
"It does get a little frustrating, but we have confidence in this building and with our team," said Bonino. "Lack played a hell of a game."
The game looked destined for a shootout when Bieksa took a late hooking penalty that could have been a penalty shot for Bonino. Instead, the Ducks took advantage of the extra man and with a mere .06 of a second remaining, Perry gave the Ducks the game winning goal.
"I knew there wasn’t much time left, coming into the zone," said Perry, who had no less than nine scoring chances in the game. "I saw a couple seconds on the clock, and just yelled for the puck. I knew I would shoot it right away. It wasn’t hard, but it probably fooled him more than anything. It found a way in. Of all the places I shot tonight, a trickler is the one that goes in."
Ryan Getzlaf's pass was perfectly placed on Perry's stick and the shot went right through Lack's legs. A despondent Lack just kneeled on the ice while the entire bench swamped Perry to celebrate.
The Ducks now look to make it 20 games at home with points on Tuesday against the Boston Bruins, another formidable team that the Ducks would be ill advised to spot a couple goals.
In other notes:
Roberto Luongo was hurt while playing against the Kings the night before so Rob Laurie sat on the bench as the Canucks back up for the evening. The 43 year old former Anaheim Bullfrogs goaltender suited up for Anaheim as an emergency back up last April, but only spent four minutes on the bench until Frederik Andersen arrived. This time, Laurie spent the full 65 minutes watching the game from the best seat in the house and getting paid (albeit an amateur contract rate) to do so.