By Adam Brady
ANAHEIM – As if a little overtime magic a couple nights ago vs. LA wasn’t enough, the Ducks did it again tonight at Honda Center.
Tied 2-2 with the visiting Avalanche early in the extra session, Sami Vatanen tapped the puck ahead to a sprinting Corey Perry, who wristed a shot on the breakaway top shelf to win it for Anaheim. The entire Ducks bench poured onto the ice to mob Perry, enveloped by the roar of an overflow crowd of 17,313.
"Sami made a great play at the blueline, making a play on that puck and just poking it ahead," Perry said. "I was fortunate to have that breakaway, and I had an idea of what I wanted to do."
Vatanen, playing his first game since February 15 while recovering from a lower-body injury, poked the puck away from Colorado's Brad Stuart to start the breakaway, and in turn made up for a turnover that led to Colorado’s go-ahead goal.
"I felt really good, like 100 percent," Vatanen said. "It’s good to be back and get up to game speed again. It’ll get better. I want to play as much as I can. I’ve been bag skating a lot, so I should be in good shape now."
It was a fifth straight win and the second straight in overtime for the Ducks, who defeated the rival Kings by the same 3-2 score Wednesday night. It was also an NHL-best 13th win after trailing in the third period.
The Ducks regained the top spot in the NHL with a 46-20-7 record (99 points).
Anaheim carried a 1-0 lead through two periods, and Colorado ultimately got the equalizer 5:28 into the third, courtesy of a familiar face. Jarome Iginla banged in a Matt Duchene pass from just outside the crease to knot it up at a goal apiece. It was the 584th career goal for the 37-year-old Iginla, second among active players behind Jaromir Jagr’s 718.
Colorado went on top a few minutes later when Vatanen mishandled the puck at the blueline on the power play, and Ryan O’Reilly cashed in on the ensuing breakaway.
Anaheim got it back even with just under 11 minutes left when Rickard Rakell tapped a loose puck to himself, spun and fired a wrister home from the left wing circle.
"I just saw the puck bounce in front of their net," Rakell said, "and I just tried to get a stick on it and get it to the net as quick as possible."
Anaheim first got on the board just 3:37 into the game when Jiri Sekac emerged from behind the Colorado net and sniped a shot from below the left wing circle inside the far post. Sekac looked skyward in relief after celebrating, since it was his first goal since December 29, while with Montreal, and his first since being acquired by the Ducks from the Canadiens on February 24.
Perry’s goal in OT came on Anaheim’s 40th shot of the game, as Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov was strong in net with 37 stops. Anaheim netminder Frederik Andersen, getting his first start since March 9, had 20 saves to run his record to 31-10-5.
"It was pretty solid," Andersen said. "I felt pretty sharp like I wanted to do. My positioning was pretty good and I was seeing the puck really well."
It was a nice end to a three-game homestand for the Ducks, who hit the road for five straight mostly East Coast games through the end of the month.
"I thought we played really good in the first period. We were tentative in the second period, and in the third period, they were pretty desperate," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "They took it to us a little bit, but once we got behind, something kicked in."