By Adam Brady
ANAHEIM – A lengthy absence didn’t keep the Ducks from remaining dominant in their home arena, but they did this one the hard way.
After giving up the tying goal to visiting Phoenix with less than a minute left in regulation, Saku Koivu scored his second goal of the game 51 seconds into overtime to secure a 3-2 victory, a franchise record 10th in a row for Anaheim. The last NHL team to win 10 straight or more was Pittsburgh (15 in March of 2013). The Ducks are just the third team from the Western Conference to win 10 consecutive games since the 2005-06 season.
"It’s something to be proud of," said Ben Lovejoy, who set up the game-winner. "We wanted this tenth win. This was a big one. Not quite as meaningful as No. 9 where we were able to go back and get [head coach] Bruce Boudreau’s old team for him, but 10 wins in a row is an impressive feat. It only happens one or two times a year, but we need to continue."
The Ducks, who were coming off a perfect four-game road swing that concluded before the Christmas break, also improved to a staggering 14-0-2 at home. The win tied Anaheim for the top spot in the NHL with Chicago, which lost tonight in a shootout in St. Louis.
"Any time you can be a part of something nobody else has done, I think it’s a special occasion," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "I think the number 10 is magic when you get into streaks because it doesn’t happen very often. The last time I did it was in Hershey and we ended winning the [Calder] Cup. The time before was in Mississippi and we won the [Kelly] Cup. Hopefully, it’s a good omen."
Tonight was the third extra-time game of the streak, which was forced when Phoenix tied the game with 43.8 seconds left and their net empty. Defenseman Keith Yandle fired a shot from the right point that pinballed in front and got behind Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller.
If that crushed the Ducks, they didn’t show it much, as they put the game away early in OT as Lovejoy slung a shot from the point that Koivu tipped through with the blade of his stick, igniting a standing-room-only crowd of 17,442.
"I just got a little tip," Koivu said. "On four-on-four, when you win a faceoff, there’s more room on top. Lovejoy and [Cam] Fowler made a great d-to-d play, and I was able to get open in the middle. Those tips are more luck than anything else. You try to get open and try to get your stick in there. Try to get in front of the goaltender, and we got lucky on that one."
The Ducks took a seemingly safe two-goal lead five minutes into the third, as Daniel Winnik fired a slap shot from the right wing on the rush, and a charging Andrew Cogliano redirected it past goalie Thomas Greiss.
Later in the period, Phoenix scored their first goal of the game in fortuitous fashion to cut the Ducks lead to 2-1. Jonas Hiller started behind his net to chase a dumped puck, which took an unorthodox bounce out of the corner into the slot, where Martin Hanzal sent it past a diving Jonas Hiller.
The tying goal came just four minutes later, but Koivu’s second of the night (and third point) made up for it. "We tried to forget what happened," Koivu said. "It’s one of those things where you try and regroup and quick as you can. You knew there was a good chance there would be overtime, so you start thinking about that."
The only goal of the first two periods came with 2:52 left in the first and the Ducks on the penalty kill. Winnik skated the puck into the Coyotes zone and dropped it to Koivu, who put a few moves on the Phoenix defenders before snapping a shot past Greiss. It was the 11th shorthanded goal and 250th goal overall of Koivu’s stellar career.
"I wish I could play every shift for the rest of my career with him," Lovejoy said. "He’s that good in all facets of the ice. He’s so good defensively. He makes everything easier, and he had a big game tonight."
The Ducks will look to make it 11 straight tomorrow night against another division rival, as they battle the Sharks in San Jose.
The Ducks’ 61 standings points (28-7-5) through 40 games is the second-highest in club history, just one point shy of the team’s best mark ever at this juncture (28-6-6 for 62 points through 40 games in 2006-07).
Anaheim also has a 13-game standings point streak (11-0-2), three shy of the club record (12-0-4 from Oct. 6-Nov. 9, 2006). It’s the league’s longest since the aforementioned Penguins’ streak.
The Ducks improved their home record to 14-0-2, continuing the club’s best home start in franchise history. Anaheim remains the only NHL club to remain undefeated in regulation this season. In addition, this marks just the second time since the implementation of the shootout (2005-06) that an NHL club has gone this far without a regulation loss at home to start a season (San Jose, 20-0-2 in 2008-09).
Anaheim has won all four games vs. Phoenix this season, marking the club’s most wins against the Coyotes since 2008-09 (4-1-1).
Saku Koivu scored both his 10th career overtime goal and 11th career shorthanded goal to lead the Ducks to a 3-2 OT victory. It marked his 26th career multi-goal game and first since Jan. 10, 2012 vs. Dallas (3-0=3)
his 11th career shorthanded goal and his 250th career goal overall at 17:08 of the first period. Koivu finished with a season-high 2-1=3 points for his second straight multi-point game. He now has 3-2=5 points in his last two games and 4-3=7 in his last five. Koivu’s first goal was the 250th of his career and Anaheim’s second shorthanded goal of the season (last: Cam Fowler, Dec. 9, 2013 vs. NYI).
Daniel Winnik tallied two assists (0-2=2) for his third multi-point game of the season. Winnik has points in two of his last three games (0-3=3) and three in five (0-4=4).
Andrew Cogliano scored his second goal in as many games, collecting his 11th of the season at 5:04 of the third period. Cogliano has points in two straight games (2-1=3) and in three of his last five (2-4=6).