ANAHEIM – Thanks to a spark from the unlikeliest of sources, the Anaheim Ducks pulled off what was likely the most dramatic victory of their topsy-turvy season.
Rookie Dan Sexton, a 22-year-old playing in just his third NHL game, scored the first two goals of his career in the third period, setting the table for a 4-3 overtime victory over the Dallas Stars.
Sexton's two third period goals (the first two of his career) sparked the Ducks on their way to a dramatic overtime win.
Sexton's second goal was gargantuan for the Ducks, coming with just 1:02 left in regulation to tie the game 3-3. Riding the momentum of that goal, the Ducks won it when Saku Koivu scored off his own rebound with 46.5 seconds left in overtime.
"This is unbelievable,” Sexton said to a TV reporter immediately after the game, barely heard above the roar of the Honda Center crowd. "We never stopped fighting and never got down on ourselves. To get the result feels great. It was super exciting.”
No one was more exciting to watch than the 5-10, 170-pound Sexton, who fired a game-high nine shots and was all over the ice the entire night. His first goal at 6:10 into the third period came with the Ducks down 3-1 and unmistakably gave them new life. After Bobby Ryan deked to the net and lost the puck off his stick, Sexton was right there to flip it over a falling Marty Turco.
“I felt like I was dreaming,” Sexton said.
But the Ducks still had work to do and they did just that, controlling play over the rest of a period in which they outshot the Stars, 14-2. That work finally paid off when Sexton, seconds after peppering the net a couple more times, got the puck low in the right wing circle and wristed a shot that slid under Turco to tie the game.
"Take my coolest previous feeling and multiple it by 10, if not more," Sexton said. "That is what it was. I thought we were due to score, but once it actually happens, you’re in shock. To get another one after that, it just felt like a dream. It was unbelievable."
The goal lit up a Honda Center crowd that would find more reason to holler a few minutes later in overtime. After a battle along the wall for the puck in the Anaheim end, it squirted out to Koivu, who led a 3-on-1 down the right wing. Koivu closed in before sending a shot off Turco, then chipped in the rebound for the dramatic game-winner.
"It felt great," Koivu said. "For my line and myself, there have been some chances in the last couple of games, but the puck hasn’t gone in. We were down early in the game and battled back. Getting the winner in OT, there is a lot of stuff you can build on and hopefully bring into the next game."
The win snapped a five-game losing skid for the Ducks, part of which was a disappointing 3-1 defeat five days previous in Dallas. The comeback win from three goals down also matched the largest in franchise history.
Dallas forward Brad Richards helped make that deficit happen with two goals for the Stars in each of the first two periods, the latter coming 6:20 into the second to put Dallas up 3-0. Following an Anaheim turnover in their end, Richards fired a shot from the right wing circle that barely nicked James Wisniewski’s leg before rolling under Jean-Sebastien Giguere’s stick.
Richards and Mike Modano had given Dallas a two-goal lead through the opening period on goals within1:54 of each other, Richards’ opening goal coming on the power play.
Joffrey Lupul ensured the Ducks would go into the final period trailing by two goals when he connected on a breakaway with a minute and a half left. Just after escaping from the box following a hooking minor, Lupul took a pass from Ryan Getzlaf with only goalie Marty Turco to beat. After a quick deke, Lupul forced the puck under Turco, who dragged it over the stripe as he slid backwards into the net. It was the fourth goal in three games for Lupul after missing the previous seven with back spasms.
"The first two games I played here we lost in a shootout," Sexton said of losses to Minnesota and Ottawa over the weekend. "To win the game in overtime here, it’s just great. Our team has been working hard. Like Coach said, we came out a little flat in the first period. But to be able to respond from the three-goal deficit, especially after losing the last two games in heartbreaking shootouts, it just says a lot about your team. It’s something we can really build on."
On the strength of that victory, the Ducks head for the road for four straight, the first coming Friday in Detroit.
"There have been a number of games where we felt that we played well enough to win games," Koivu said. "For some reason, we’ve been able to lose those points and those games. Now, coming back from behind and a big goal in the end by Sexton, those are huge things. Hopefully, this is a turning point and we can get a streak going."
This is the sixth time in franchise history the Ducks have overcome a three-goal deficit to win. (last: Feb. 17, 2007 at PHX in a 5-4 OT win).
The Ducks have earned standings points in seven of the last nine games 4-2-3. The club has also earned standings points in six the last seven HOME contests (4-1-2) and in nine of the last 11 contests played at Honda Center (7-2-2).
10 of the last 11 Ducks games (including the last six consecutive) have been tied at some point in the third period, with nine of them being one-goal decisions (final score) and another being a 3-1 loss @ Dallas with an empty-net goal.
Joffrey Lupul has tied a career high by extending his goal streak to three games (4-0=4). It’s the fourth such streak of his career with the last taking place from Dec. 20-24, 2008 (3-4=7).
Dan Sexton scored his first two NHL goals (also first NHL point) in his third career NHL game. The last Duck to score their first two NHL goals in the same contest was Ryan Carter on Feb. 8, 2008 at New Jersey (2-0=2).
Ryan Getzlaf has a current three-game point streak (1-5=6). He had earned points in seven of the last nine games (3-7=10) and in 19 of the last 23 (6-27=33). Getzlaf leads the NHL in both points and assists since Nov. 1 (5-20=25).
Tonight marked the eight career OT goal of Saku Koivu’s career (last: Mar. 10, 2009 w/MTL vs. EDM).
With two assists tonight, Bobby Ryan has earned 2-2=4 points in the last three games.
Tonight’s attendance was 13,861.
4:13 - ANAHEIM GOAL - SAKU KOIVU - Following a battle for the puck along the wall, Koivu comes away with it and leads a 3-on-1 down the right wing. He waits to the play to develop and fires a shot that hits off Turco right back to Koivu, who chips it home for the winner. Bedlam in Honda Center as the Ducks make an incredible comeback to notch the 4-3 victory.
2:30 - No shifts yet for Sexton in OT.
2:06 - Turco with a nice play to deny a one-too-many pass by Ryan on the rush.
1:55 - Niedermayer drills Modano to the delight of the crowd. The vet is slow to get up.
Chants of "Tuuuuuuurrrrrco" from the crowd.
0:45 - Getzlaf fires a shot from the point that bounces in front off Turco to Perry, but he can't get an angle on it. Close.
0:16 - Koivu a shot from the slot that Turco just does stop.
0:00 - Here we go.
20:00 - END OF REGULATION - Sexton's two goals in the period have us going to overtime.
19:30 - NINE shots for Sexton tonight.
18:58 - ANAHEIM GOAL - DAN SEXTON - Sexton gets the second of the game, second of his career on a shift that he practically owned all by himself. Seconds after putting the puck on net repeatedly, he heads down the right wing and slings a shot from low in the circle under Turco. Pandemonium in this place as we're tied 3-3. Major goosebump moment.
18:50 - Sexton active again, flipping the puck on net about three times in five seconds.
17:31 - Ducks outshooting Dallas 12-2 in this period, 33-20 for the game.
16:20 - Great defensive play by Getzlaf to pin Ott against the glass and allow Whitney to take the puck.
15:00 - Five minutes left and the Ducks need to make something happen.
12:38 - Brown a wrist shot, saved low by Turco. Ducks with a noticeable bounce to their step in this period.
12:16 - Festerling with a shot into Turco's glove, following by some shoving between Perry and Robidas. Those guys go back a little ways.
10:20 - A Brookbank shot through traffic is barely saved by Turco. Ducks are knocking hard on the door.
9:30 - Perry with a nice screen to get the puck to bounce high off a fallen Turco, but Perry can't find the puck.
8:58 - Perry attempt to spin his way to the net and appears to get hooked down by Robidas, just before the puck squirts to Lupul, who fires into Turco's mitt.
6:10 - ANAHEIM GOAL - DAN SEXTON - First NHL goal for Sexton and it's a huge one for Anaheim. Bobby Ryan dekes his way to the net and loses the puck off his stick, but Sexton is right there to flip it into the net from near the post. Sexton is elated, skating away from the play and going to a knee to punch the ice with his gloved hand. Ryan is nowhere near the celebratory scrum because he's gone to the other side of the ice to chase the puck down for Sexton. Meanwhile, Sexton races to the bench to slap hands with his teammates and then to where Ryan is to touch gloves. Great moment for the rookie and it pulls the Ducks to within a goal.
5:26 - Ryan tries to jam the puck under Turco from behind the net. Denied.
3:03 - Beleskey whips a shot from the right wing, off the side of the net.
2:55 - Six men on the ice for Dallas. No call.
0:00 - Here we go in the third.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Dallas goes up three goals, but the Ducks get one back from Lupul on the breakaway to make it 3-1.
18:24 - ANAHEIM GOAL - JOFFREY LUPUL - Lupul escapes from the box as the penalty ends and gets a pass ahead of everybody from Getzlaf. He's got only Turco to beat on the breakaway and forces the puck under him, with Turco dragging it over the stripe as he's sliding backward, just before Lupul goes tumbling into the wall. It's 3-1 Dallas. Fourth goal in the last three for Loops.
17:27 - Ducks get a chance for a shortie as Marchant drops to Nokelainen on the rush, but Nokie's low shot from the circle is trapped by Turco.
16:14 - ANA Penalty - Joffrey Lupul, 2 min. hooking. After a lengthy squirmish for the puck in the corner, Lupul chops down Wandell.
15:20 - Big play by Brookbank to block a shot with Giguere drawn out and the net open.
13:17 - ANA Penalty - Nick Boynton, 2 min. hooking.
11:05 - Ryan gets robbed by Turco a couple of times trying to stuff in a rebound as the power play runs out. One of those was a kick save that hit skate, then post.
9:36 - Kill. Taco. And now the Ducks on the power play.
8:57 - DAL Penalty - Loui Eriksson, 2 min. interference. Eriksson knocks down Beleskey at center ice away from the puck.
7:36 - ANA Penalty - Mike Brown, 2 min. elbowing. Brown elbows Tom Wandell while chasing the puck near the wall. A kill here gives everyone in the crowd a Del Taco taco.
6:20 - DALLAS GOAL - BRAD RICHARDS - Richards gets his second of the night right off an Artyukhin turnover in the Anaheim end. Richards collects it and fires a shot from the right wing circle that clicks off Wisniewski's leg and goes right under Giguere's stick. It's 3-0 Dallas.
5:40 - Two more Sexy shots in a manner of 10 seconds, but off Turco.
4:55 - Festerling gets the crowd a little excited with a shot from deep on the left wing that rattles the side of the net. Slight scuffle after the net is knocked off its supports.
3:00 - Sexton a shot from the wing off Turco's chest. Sexy has a game-high four on goal tonight.
1:35 - Big stop by Giguere on a wide open Jamie Benn one-timer in front.
0:00 - Off and running in period 2.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Richards and Modano put the Stars up 2-0.
18:05 - Duck-killer Ott gets the puck behind the defense and on a breakaway, but Giguere makes a nice stop on a point-blank wrist shot to deny him. If the Ducks are to get back in this game, that stop will loom large.
16:45 - New Duck Chipchura tries to make something happen after emerging from behind the net.
It's trivia time and Jennifer from Anaheim is asked which Duck notched his 100th point in an Anaheim uniform two nights ago against Ottawa. She's given Lupul, Ryan, Marchant and guesses Lupul. She's right! Wooden Classic tickets, Five for Fighting CD and other prizes for her.
14:20 - Ryan fires a high backhander from the slot that Turco saves. Sexton jumps on the rebound, into the glove.
12:19 - Right off the draw, Sheldon Brookbank and frequent Brad May combatant Krys Barch throw off the gloves. It's a lengthy bout in which both players get a couple of blows in, both losing their helmets. Ultimately, it's broken up by the zebras. Brookbank obviously looking to shift the momentum of this one.
11:00 - DALLAS GOAL - MIKE MODANO - After Lupul turns the puck over in the offensive zone, the Stars get on a rush led by Ott down the left wing. He picks the right time to feed across to Modano, and the 39-year-old slaps it through. It's 2-0 Dallas.
9:10 - New Duck Chipchura nearly gets one of those goals that Getzlaf got last game, throwing the puck off the glass, where it takes a kick right toward the net. But the veteran Turco, despite a penchant for chasing pucks behind the net, stays put and makes the save.
9:06 - DALLAS GOAL (POWER PLAY) - BRAD RICHARDS - James Neal holds the puck behind the Anaheim net and feeds to the right wing circle to Richards, who one-times it under Giguere's armpit.
7:34 - ANA Penalty - Dan Sexton, 2 min. goaltender interference. Sexton knocks down Turco. Of course, he was pushed a bit by Nicklas Grossman.
Power Players in the halter tops tonight. Halters with Santa hats. An odd combo.
4:10 - Koivu is right there for a rebound off a Festerling point shot, but can't control it before being knocked off his feet.
2:10 - Artyukhin back out there after getting the healthy scratch the last couple of games.
1:40 - Niedermayer gets a lot of room deep on the right wing off a pass from Wisniewski, but fires it off Turco.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
7:07 p.m. - With that familiar alto voice, Amanda Guerrero does another nice job with the anthem. Starters in bold/italics. Scratches crossed out.