ANAHEIM – He’s only been here two weeks, but Lubomir Visnovsky has found a way to quickly endear himself to Ducks fans.
The ever-smiling defenseman, acquired by the Ducks from Edmonton before the March 3 trade deadline, had two goals, including one to force overtime with just 32.0 left in regulation to set up a dramatic 5-4 victory for Anaheim over the visiting Islanders.
With the Anaheim net empty, Visnovsky banged home a one-timer from the point off a Teemu Selanne pass and through a Corey Perry screen to complete a two-goal comeback in the third period and ignite the home crowd. They got even louder not long afterward, as just 14 seconds into the extra session, Saku Koivu picked off a pass at the red line and converted a wrist shot on the breakaway to seal the victory.
"Today in the first half of the game we were kind of waiting to see what would happen and the third period was an amazing one from us," Koivu said. "And we fought through it to the end, got huge goals with less than a minute to go and this is the type of game we need right now. We will take these points any way right now."
Visnovsky’s game-tying strike was remarkably his fifth goal in the last six games for the Ducks, who kept their slim playoff hopes alive with their third straight victory.
"The last three games we’ve won have been great for the team," Visnovsky said. "We have confidence. Tonight was a crazy game. For me every puck was bouncing off my stick and I was not very comfortable with the puck. But it doesn’t matter because the team wins and everything is okay."
Anaheim started its comeback by getting within a goal halfway through the third period, as Jason Blake just got a piece of a Visnovsky point shot and it dribbled behind goalie Martin Biron just inside the far post.
The Ducks and Islanders skated to a 2-2 tie through one period as each quickly answered goals by the other. New York’s Richard Park struck first blood 9:53 into the period by cashing in his own rebound. But the Ducks came right back with a goal by rookie Matt Beleskey, who took a pass in the slot from Scott Niedermayer and slipped it under Biron’s arm.
The Ducks took the lead on a Visnovsky strike with 1:51 left in the period, as he banged home a Selanne feed..
But this time New York quickly tied it, less than a minute later, as Kyle Okposo scored when he sent a pass in front and Visnovsky accidentally kicked it in.
Okposo got his second of the game on the man advantage 2:42 into the middle session, just 12 seconds after a Niedermayer hooking penalty. Okposo’s shot from the circle hit Jonas Hiller and trickled behind him, leading Randy Carlyle to pull him from the game for backup Curtis McElhinney.
The Isles got their second power play goal of the period with 5:29 left, as 2009 No. 1 draft pick John Tavares regained control of the puck in the slot and backhanded it past McElhinney. That gave New York a two-goal lead that Anaheim didn’t cut into until Blake’s strike midway through the third, but that left the Ducks plenty of time to scrap back and eventually win it.
Selanne, continuing his quest for a 600th career goal, got close a number of times but had to settle for a two-assist night.
Ryan Getzlaf was back in the lineup for the Ducks after missing one game following an ankle re-injury suffered Sunday night against San Jose.
The Ducks finish off their seven-game homestand Sunday against Colorado.
"It’s not easy because every point right now is important to us," Visnovsky said. "It was difficult when we were down 4-2 and some of those ugly goals were not good for the team. Anytime we tried something the puck bounced off our stick. But the team showed character and in the last period we played in their zone and I think we played very well. And we got the two points, which is very important."
Tonight marked Saku Koivu’s second OT goal of the season (also Dec. 8, 2009 vs. DAL, 4-3) and the ninth of his career. He now leads the Ducks and ranks tied for sixth in game-winning goals this season (6). Koivu has 2-4=6 points in the last three games.
Tonight marked Lubomir Visnovsky’s first multi-goal game since Dec. 29, 2006 (w/LA @ CGY, 2-0=2). It was the fifth multi-goal game of his career. His 15 goals on the season rank second among NHL defensemen. Visnovsky has scored goals in four of the last six games (5-1=6).
Teemu Selanne’s two assists tonight moved him into sole possession of 57th on the NHL’s all-time assists list (647). He’s now just three assists shy of tying Brett Hull for 56th in all-time assists. Selanne has earned 4-7=11 points in the last 13 games.
With an assist tonight, Ryan Getzlaf has points in four of the last five games (1-5=6) he’s appeared in.
Tonight’s attendance was 14,665.
0:14 - ANAHEIM GOAL - SAKU KOIVU - Koivu intercepts a Gervais pass at center ice and is off to the races with Gervais chasing him. He calmly fires a quick wrister past Biron for the winner, virtually lighting this place on fire. Thrilling win for the Ducks.
0:00 - Here we go.
20:00 - END OF REGULATION - The Ducks tie it in dramatic fashion and we're going to OT.
19:28 - ANAHEIM GOAL - LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY - Selanne loses that regains the puck along the wall and gets it to the point to Visnovsky, who fires a one-timer through a Perry screen and off the twine with 32.0 seconds left. Bedlam inside Honda Center and we're tied on Visnovsky's second of the game.
19:00 - Empty net for Anaheim.
17:45 - Selanne nearly backhands in a rebound. So close.
17:10 - Selanne, Koivu and Ryan with 2:50 left.
15:50 - Turnover by Brookbank leads to a point blank shot that McElhinney stops.
Rocky II music coming out of the final TV timeout. That will never get old.
13:00 - Niedermayer tries to sneak it to Selanne in front, under his stick.
11:39 - ANA Penalty - Sheldon Brookbank and NYI Penalty Jon Sim, 2 min. each roughing. With the puck being battled for in the corner, Sim delivers a blindside hit on Koivu, sparking a brawl against the glass.
11:25 - Visnovsky fires high at the net and Blake, screening again, knocks him off his feet as he jumps for the puck. No penalty.
9:53 - ANAHEIM GOAL (POWER PLAY) - JASON BLAKE After they don't get anything from the first PP unit, the Ducks finally get one from the second one. Eminger catches and fires from the right point, where it's tipped by a screening Blake enough that it hits Biron before rolling slowly behind him just inside the far post. Ducks pull within one on their first power play goal in the last 19 chances.
9:00 - Selanne feeds Niedermayer in front, but he fires wide at an open half of the net.
Clips from Miracle (Herb Brooks' speech) and Mystery, Alaska during the timeout to get the crowd into it.
7:57 - NYI Penalty - Bruno Gervais, 2 min. tripping. Gervais takes down Perry along the wall.
4:08 - ANA Penalty - Lubomir Visnovsky, 2 min. hooking. Visnovsky gets the stick up high into Hunter.
3:56 - Marchant fires from the right wing, saved by Biron, who is promptly bowled over by Beleskey.
2:50 - Perry can't chip it in from near the post.
2:35 - Selanne from the circle, in and out of Biron's glove.
1:30 - Selanne on the first unit.
1:02 - NYI Penalty - Dylan Reese, 2 min. interference. Scary moment as Ryan goes spilling on his back skates first into the wall. A little shaken up, but he's okay.
0:10 - Ducks put two shots on net (Sexton and Koivu) in the first 10 seconds.
0:00 - Here we go in the third, the Ducks with some work to do.
2nd Period 20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Not a good one for the Ducks, who give up power play goals to Okposo and Tavares to go down 4-2.
19:55 - Trouble in front of the Isles net as Corey Perry gets cross checked from behind by Hunter and falls in between Biron's legs. Kind of awkward there for a second. And Perry is not pleased as the period starts to run out.
14:31 - NEW YORK GOAL (POWER PLAY) - JOHN TAVARES - On the power play, the rookie momentarily loses the puck in the slot, but gets it back in time to backhand it under McElhinney, who was screened well by Matt Moulson.
14:02 - ANA Penalty - Ryan Carter, 2 min. cross checking. Bad offensive zone penalty for Carter, as he knocks down an Islander right in front of the net.
12:08 - McElhinney again. And again.
11:23 - Selanne has about the 85th chance for 600 in the last couple of games, firing backhand from the slot into Biron. He and Koivu both let out a laugh on this one.
10:11 - Ryan gets a nice lead pass from Perry to create room on the left wing, but he can't sling it past Biron.
8:55 - McElhinney makes a couple nice stops in traffic. He's looked good so far.
Kiss Cam shows two different women from the Ducks accounting department, one of whom is too busy putting on Chapstick to kiss her husband. That's what the Chapstick's for, isn't it?
4:23 - ANA Penalty - Matt Beleskey, 2 min. diving and NYI Penalty - Freddy Meyer, 2 min. interference. Meyer makes a nice open-field block on Beleskey as Frans Nielsen runs with the puck. Somehow the officials determine that Beleskey sold it. Wow.
2:42 - In a somewhat surprising move, Hiller is pulled for McElhinney.
2:42 - NEW YORK GOAL (POWER PLAY) - KYLE OKPOSO - The Islanders make the Ducks pay right away on the power play, as Okposo fires from the circle and it hits Hiller and trickles under him. It's 3-2 Islanders.
2:30 - ANA Penalty - Scott Niedermayer, 2 min. hooking. Niedermayer gets surprisingly skated around by Comeau, leading to the hook, but thankfully Hiller makes the stop.
0:00 - Off and running in the second.
1st Period 20:00 - END OF PERIOD - The Ducks get two, but give up two (the last one a tough one to take) and it's 2-2.
19:02 - NEW YORK - KYLE OKPOSO - Okposo skates behind the Anaheim net and tries to send it in front to Bergenheim at the top of the crease. But in a crowd, Visnovsky inadvertantly kicks it into his own goal. It's 2-2.
18:09 - ANAHEIM GOAL - LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY - Selanne, who appears to be gassed at the tail end of a long shift, chases down the puck off the wall and gets it to Visnovsky, who hammers it home from the slot. Fourth in the last six games for Visnovsky and it's 2-1 Ducks.
18:00 - A couple more chances for Selanne on wha'ts becoming a long shift.
17:12 - Selanne has a shot at 600, firing just wide on an open one-timer.
15:50 - Visnovsky fires from the point, tipped by 15 just wide.
It's trivia time and dude in an orange Ducks practice jersey and an orange and white spikey wig is asked how many straight Cups did the Islanders win in the 1980s. Out of 2, 4 or 5 he guesses 4 and he's ... right! If I remember correctly from what I was told earlier today, I think he wins a PS3. Not bad. \
12:45 - Scary moment as a tipped shot from the point gets under Hiller and hits the post, sitting in the painted area inches from the goal line before being swept away by Koivu.
12:10 - The Isles seemingly get away with a trip to take the puck from Blake, but thankfully Tavares' shot is saved.
10:15 - ANAHEIM GOAL - MATT BELESKEY - Scott Niedermayer picks up the puck in his own end and glides onto the rush. He momentarily loses it before backhanding a pass to Beleskey, who fires from the slot under Biron's arm and netward. First for Beleskey since February 4, seventh on the year and It's 1-1.
9:53 - NEW YORK GOAL - RICHARD PARK - Battling with Chipchura, Park emerges from behind the net to try and stuff it under Hiller. He makes the initial save, but the puck comes right back out to Park, who chips it top shelf. Isles strike first blood.
8:55 - Top liners buzzing around the Islanders net.
7:42 - Nice drop pass by Visnovsky to Sexton, who fires into the leg pads.
6:01 - Eminger, in there with Wiz out of the lineup, fires from the point, saved.
4:30 - Bruno Gervais (hell of a name) fires from the slot wide.
1:50 - Getzlaf, back in the lineup, fires from the slot into Biron.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
7:07 p.m. - Newcomer anthem singer Jodii Lee of Australia leaves a couple of male jaws on the floor in this press box. I think she sang a song. I really don't know.
Getzlaf in the lineup for Anaheim. Starters in bold/italics. Scratches crossed out.