WASHINGTON, D.C. - The league-leading Anaheim Ducks have been unflappable during their franchise-record nine-game winning streak. They kept their poise again Monday night after trailing the Washington Capitals by two goals before the game was 15 minutes old.
Andrew Cogliano scored late in the first period, Saku Koivu tied the game in the final half-minute of the second and rookie Hampus Lindholm got the winner with 5:36 left in regulation for a 3-2 victory that provided coach Bruce Boudreau with a triumphant return to Verizon Center in his first trip back since being fired by the Capitals two years ago.
"I thought our guys were really good after the first 10 minutes," Boudreau said. "I think they were trying hard for the guys that were in Washington, and [Ducks assistant coach and former Capitals assistant coach] Bob [Woods] and myself, and I think they were a little nervous in the beginning, but once we got our legs going, I thought we shut them down pretty good."
It was the second time in as many games that the Ducks rallied from a two-goal deficit; they trailed 3-1 after two periods against the New York Islanders on Saturday but rallied for a 5-3 victory.
Jonas Hiller made 17 saves for Anaheim, allowing first-period goals to Mikhail Grabovski and Nicklas Backstrom before shutting down Washington the rest of the way.
"That's our success right now," Hiller said. "We don't look back. We don't stop playing our game even if we're down a goal, two goals."
Lindholm's wrist shot through heavy traffic beat goaltender Philipp Grubauer for the 19-year-old rookie's third goal of the season.
"The puck just bounced right to the middle, and I get the puck on my stick, and I just tried to make a quick move forward so I could get it to the net and I saw it went in," Lindholm said. "It's a very good feeling. It's a huge goal and it's fun for Bruce and those guys to win against their old team, so it's just a blast."
Anaheim (27-7-5) leads the NHL with 59 points, one more than the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Capitals, 1-2-1 in their past four games, opened the scoring with a transition play that began with a deft indirect pass off the wall by Eric Fehr to spring Grabovski, who entered the offensive zone with speed and got behind the Ducks defense. Grabovski dropped the puck to Troy Brouwer, who sent a quick pass back to Grabovski for a tip-in on the give-and-go.
Backstrom extended Washington's lead to 2-0 on the power play at 11:37. With Koivu in the penalty box for the second time for hooking, John Carlson collected Brouwer's faceoff win and found Backstrom near the half-wall. Backstrom surveyed his options before skating into the right circle and snapping a shot that ricocheted off the right post and into the net for his ninth goal of the season.
Anaheim responded at 17:15 when Cogliano scored off a scramble in front of Grubauer. Lindholm's wrist shot went wide of the net. Cogliano fetched the puck and fed to Koivu, whose shot also went wide. But Cogliano was able to wrap around the net undetected, corral Koivu's attempt and throw a sharp-angled backhander past Grubauer to make it 2-1.
The Ducks controlled the play through most of the second period, outshooting the Capitals, who spent 6:34 on the penalty kill, by 11-4. Koivu, set up by an end-to-end rush by defenseman Ben Lovejoy, tied the game at 2-2 with 27 seconds left in the period. Lovejoy carried the puck from the Ducks' blue line below the Capitals' goal line, holding off Dmitry Orlov as he rounded the corner to slide a one-handed pass to Koivu in front.
It was the second time in as many games that the Capitals (19-14-4) lost after leading by two goals. They led the New Jersey Devils 3-1 and 4-2 on Saturday but lost 5-4 in overtime.
"It's not acceptable at all, I think, and it's something we have to look at ourselves in the mirror and make sure we all do a better job," Backstrom said. "I mean, this is not good enough, that's for sure."
Washington had 11 shots on goal in the first period but totaled eight in the final two periods -- not including Alex Ovechkin's wrister that he thought tied the game with 3:09 remaining. Ovechkin's shot rang off the crossbar and landed behind Hiller but did not cross the goal line as the referee immediately signaled no goal even as the goal siren sounded. The no-goal call was upheld by video review.
"I saw the one replay they showed [on the scoreboard], and it looked like it was in on that one, but at the same time, looking at the crossbar, you can still see the mark kind of outside of the crossbar, so I was pretty sure it wasn't a goal," Hiller said. "In the end, it's not on me to call, but it was definitely nice to get that break, and I think, in the end, if you work hard, you deserve those kinds of breaks going your way. And I think that's what we did, especially in the third [period]."
The Ducks, who've played 24 of their 39 games on the road, are off until the Phoenix Coyotes come to Honda Center on Saturday night. The Capitals host the New York Rangers on Friday.
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