ANAHEIM – The most highly anticipated matchup in the league this year was everything a rabid sellout crowd at Honda Center could have hoped it would be.
A franchise-record 17,610 fans (including standing-room only) watched the Ducks bounce back with three unanswered goals in the third period to down the Blackhawks 4-2 and earn a 13th straight home victory. It was also a staggering 14th comeback win for the ever-resilient Ducks.
The matchup between the league-best Blackhawks (24-3-3) and the second-place Ducks (22-3-4) featured the two teams with the best records ever to meet this late in an NHL season. It more than lived up to the hype, as the Ducks valiantly fought back to claw within three points of Chicago's top spot in the standings.
Bobby Ryan, Teemu Selanne and Sheldon Souray (empty-netter) each scored crowd-igniting goals in the third period in helping hand Chicago just its third regulation loss of the season.
"They’ve made a statement to run away with it so far, and we’ve quietly just gone about our business," Ryan said. "This is the first game the media has really hyped what we’ve done. And we’re ok with that. To be three points back with a game in hand is huge.”
It was the second straight comeback win over the Blackhawks for Anaheim, which nabbed a shootout victory back on February 12 in Chicago. The Ducks, meanwhile, haven't lost in regulation since February 25 (12 straight games).
“I haven’t heard our building like that in a long time," Ryan said. "They had a lot of fans here too, so I think it added to it, and the fans seemed to feed off each other. It was electric. It was great.”
After not finding the net since the opening minutes of the game, the Ducks tied it 2-2 in dramatic fashion 14:33 into the third. Ryan Getzlaf skated deep down the right wing before flipping the puck on net, where goalie Corey Crawford kicked it to the top of the crease and Ryan punched it through.
Just a little more than a minute later, Selanne gave the Ducks a lead they would never relinquish with his first goal since March 1. Again it was orchestrated by Getzlaf, as he picked off the puck at the red line, backhanded a pass in front of defensememan Jonny Oduya and Selanne shuttled it past a drawn-out Crawford.
“It’s a big relief," Selanne said. "Lately I’ve had some bad luck. Today I had so many chances. In the last couple games, luck was not on my side. But it’s always good. That give me a lot of confidence and it’s a good feeling. But the win was the most important. The good thing is we found a way to win the game.”
The Hawks sent Crawford to the bench for an extra attacker with a minute left, and Souray chased down a dumped puck in the corner, sent it toward the Chicago end and somehow guided it into the open net.
"[Getzlaf] could barely get out of bed this afternoon with the flu and he comes in and he’s not strong enough to take faceoffs and yet he still gets two assists in the last eight minutes and sets up the winning goal," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "That’s what leadership does, all of the guys. Great way for Teemu to break out of a slump. But that’s leadership. Everybody knows their role and everybody played it. It was really good."
Earning the hype that accompanied the lead-up to this game, things started fast and furious in the opening period. The Ducks struck first just 1:24 after the opening draw, as a Luca Sbisa shot ricocheted off the boards behind the Chicago net, and Peter Holland jabbed the puck in from outside the left post.
Chicago countered two-and-a-half minutes later, as Jonathan Toews blocked a Souray point shot and was off to the races, staying ahead of a chasing Getzlaf before shuttling the puck past Jonas Hiller.
But that was the extent of the scoring for both teams for the rest of that period and deep into the second, until the Blackhawks took advantage of a Souray holding penalty at 9:29. Nick Leddy hammered a slap shot from the straightaway point that sailed past Hiller, who was well-screened by Viktor Stalberg.
Chicago appeared to give itself a 3-1 lead six minutes into the third when Brandon Bollig sent the puck through from the top of the crease, but replays showed he kicked it in, and the goal was disallowed. That break appeared to springboard the Ducks, who owned the puck possession battle for the rest of the game and put Chicago away with those three daggers.
“It was pretty exciting," Boudreau said. "But my heart rate was up a little bit there for most of the game. It looked to me just like a playoff game, and we were lucky to come out on top on that one.”
The Ducks keep rolling through their five-game homestand with back-to-back games against the rival Red Wings on Friday and Sunday nights.
Anaheim pushed their franchise-best HOME winning streak to 13 games. It now ties for the second-longest HOME win streak in the NHL since the start of the 2009-10 season (also Washington in 2010-11 under Bruce Boudreau). Detroit won 23 straight games at Joe Louis Arena in 2011-12. Anaheim’s 13-1-0 record at Honda Center is the club’s best HOME record to start a season.
The club’s 12-game standings point streak is the longest active streak in the NHL (9-0-3, 21 points).
Anaheim’s 22-3-4 record is the club’s best-ever mark through 29 games (20-3-6 for 46 points in 2006-07).
The Ducks have rallied from deficits 14 times this season to win a game (13 times total last year). Anaheim is 12-2-1 when opponents score first (conversely the team is 9-1-3 when scoring first), compared to 1-11-2 through 29 games last season in such situations. The club’s 14 come-from-behind wins this season are the most by any NHL team through the first 29 games of a season since 1987-88 (per Stats Inc.).
Anaheim’s two comeback wins vs. Chicago this season (also Feb. 12 at United Center, a 3-2 shootout win) mark the only two times the Blackhawks have lost this season when leading after two periods (17-1-1).
Anaheim’s 48 points through 29 games rank second in the NHL, just three points shy of league-leading Chicago (30 games, 51 points).
The Ducks have not allowed a short-handed goal in 85 straight games (dating to Dec. 6, 2011), the longest active streak in the NHL.
Ryan Getzlaf extended his career-high HOME win streak to 12 games (7-15=22, +12). Over the last 18 games overall, Getzlaf has notched 8-18=26 points with a +11 rating. His team-leading 11-24=35 points on the season currently ranks sixth in the NHL.
Scoring the 107th game-winning goal of his career, Teemu Selanne moved into a tie for 15th in all-time scoring (with Bryan Trottier). In 1,370 career NHL games, Selanne has notched 670-755=1,425 points. He is now just two GWG shy of matching Brendan Shanahan for fifth in all-time GWG.
Jonas Hiller extended his HOME win streak tonight to seven straight (7-0-0), stopping 175-of-190 shots for a .921 SV% and 2.12 GAA (15 GA/424 MIN). He has gone 8-0-2 over his last nine starts with a .933 SV% (263-of-282) and 1.66 GAA (17 GA/614 MIN).
Tonight’s attendance was 17,610, a sellout including standing room only. It was the largest crowd at Honda Center in franchise history.
20:00 - END OF GAME - Ducks win a huge one, 4-2.
19:39 - ANAHEIM GOAL (EMPTY NET) - SHELDON SOURAY - Souray chases a dumped puck down in the corner and flings it toward the Chicago end, where somehow it finds the empty net with 20.7 left. This thing is over, 4-2.
19:25 - Koivu gets slashes as he fires wide from the red line.
19:05 - Crawford to the bench.
18:52 - Hawks ice it with 1:08 left, meaning the draw comes in their zone and Crawford can't go to the bench.
17:20 - Winnik with the backhand, kicked away. Koivu with a pass in front that just misses Winnik. Tide has turned.
17:05 - Hawks ice it with 2:55 left.
15:43 - Right off the draw, Bollig clearly high-sticks Cogliano, who goes down hard. Somehow, no call.
15:37 - ANAHEIM GOAL - TEEMU SELANNE - It's Getzlaf again, as he picks off the puck at the red line, backhands it past Oduya to Selanne, and he ships it past a drawn-out Crawford. First goal for Selanne since March 1 , and it's gargantuan. 3-2 Ducks.
14:38 - We come out of the TV timeout with this crowd ready to explode.
14:33 - ANAHEIM GOAL - BOBBY RYAN - Getzlaf makes the play happen, skating the puck to the deep right wing before flipping it toward the net. Crawford kicks it to the top of the crease, where Ryan punches it in to light up a crowd just waiting for something to cheer about. It's 2-2.
13:27 - Palmieri with a steal and a shot, then another shot off a Fowler pass, both stopped.
12:59 - Ducks ice it with 7:01 left.
9:20 - Getzlaf almost connects with Cogliano to set up a breakaway, but pass had a little too much on it.
7:35 - After the Ducks break up a 2-on-1, Palmieri tries to feed to a streaking Fowler, whose tip is denied by Crawford. He's on his game tonight.
5:57 - Frolik tips the puck across the top of the crease toward Bollig, who kicks it in with the skate. Looks like a goal at first, but it's reviewed and, while there is question on whether he got it with his stick after the kick, it's ruled no goal. Official mentions "distinct kicking motion" in waving the goal off. It's stil 2-1.
3:10 - Saad is sad as he weaves his way in, but is denied in front.
0:00 - Puck is down to start the third. Should be a decent one.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Blackhawks get the only goal of the period, from Leddy and they lead it 2-1.
19:40 - Hiller fights off the puck, but it drops right to Kane, who is all alone but somehow backhands it wide. Big break for Anaheim.
We just announced 17,610 (including standing-room), the largest crowd in franchise history.
17:14 - Palmieri hammers a one-timer, and Crawford kicks it away. He's been good tonight. Hear that hockey gods? He can't be beat tonight.
16:14 - Just after Beauchemin drills Frolik near center ice, he nails Kruger after a Hiller save, and Hiller gets clipped. He's okay.
11:54 - CHICAGO GOAL (POWER PLAY) - NICK LEDDY - Hawks take advantage of the Souray penalty, as Leddy winds and fires from straightaway, and Stalberg shields Hiller from seeing the blur go by him. It's 2-1 Hawks.
10:29 - ANA Penalty - Sheldon Souray, 2 min. holding. Souray gets out of position on Toews and commits the penalty trying to play catchup.
9:30 - Ryan tries to sneak one through from a bad angle, but no. No go.
6:00 - Hiller stands his ground in a crashing Stalberg.
5:00 - Kruger goes spilling over Hiller, and Souray doesn't like it too much.
4:21 - Ducks own that PK, spending half the time in the Chicago end.
3:10 - Etem nicely nabs the puck away from Crawford behind the net, but can't quite get it to a charging Cogliano.
2:21 - ANA Penalty - Toni Lydman, 2 min. interference. Lydman knocks down Shaw going after the puck. Easy one to call.
0:30 - Getzlaf with an early shot off Crawford.
0:00 - Here we go in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - We had high hopes for this one, and the first period didn't disappoint. Ducks score early, but Hawks come right back and it's 1-1. Anaheim outshoots Chicago, 11-5.
Vince Vaughn in the house, along with Matt Barkley and apparently NASCAR driver Kyle Busch. Must be a big one.
17:55 - Lydman slaps one on net, but Crawford catches it in the leg pads.
15:25 - Getzlaf with the quick one-timer off a Ryan feed, but Crawford isn't fooled.
10:20 - Lydman nicely puts a stop to a pass into the crease intended for a charging Toews.
Two fans - one guy and one girl - battle it out to sing Livin' on a Prayer by Bon Jovi on the mic during the timeout. The dude is bad, the girl is worse, and she gets roundly booed for it.
8:59 - Getzlaf with a move around Oduya, then slingshots it into Crawford's chest. We take timeout.
6:45 - Etem with a good lick on Seabrook after a pass from the blue line.
5:20 - Steckel, looking for his first as a Duck, is robbed point blank by Crawford.
3:52 - CHICAGO GOAL (SHORTHANDED) - JONATHAN TOEWS - A Souray slap shot is blocked at the point by Toews, and he's off to the races, staying ahead of a chasing Getzlaf before deking to the forehand and sending it past a lunging Hiller. It's 1-1.
2:56 - CHI Penalty - Brandon Bollig, 2 min. interference. Ducks get an early power play on the Chicago penalty following that save.
2:55 - HIller with his first big stop, on Toews.
1:24 - ANAHEIM GOAL - PETER HOLLAND - That didn't take long, as Winnik comes from behind the net and feeds a pinching Sbisa, who fires wide right. The puck comes perfectly off the back wall to Holland, who backhands it in from near the left post. Crowd goes crazy as the Ducks lead it 1-0.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
7:07 p.m. - Dawn Wright with even more passion tonight as visiting Hawks fans do what they do at home -- cheer throughout the anthem.
7:04 p.m. - It's already electric in here as we're mere minutes away from puck drop.
Hiller in net for the Ducks, Crawford for Chicago.
Starters in bold/italics.
DUNCAN KEITH (A)
BRENT SEABROOK (A)
JONATHAN TOEWS (C)
TEEMU SELANNE (A)
SAKU KOIVU (A)
RYAN GETZLAF (C)
1 - 0 ANA
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 CHI