No matter how much he played down the matchup against his former team, no matter how many times he said he would play it cool on the bench; as time expired on his Anaheim Ducks’ 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals, Head Coach Bruce Boudreau couldn’t help himself to a couple two handed fist pumps on his way to the locker room.
After falling behind 2-0 early in the game, the Ducks made another rally and scored three consecutive goals to keep their franchise record winning streak alive heading into the Christmas break.
Goals from Andrew Cogliano, Saku Koivu and Hampus Lindholm and stout defense that only allowed eight shots on goal through the final two periods combined.
Alexander Ovechkin took over a quarter of the team’s shots, but was turned aside each time by Jonas Hiller, who stopped 17-shots for his 16th win of the season.
As it was in the New York Islanders game, the Ducks started on their heels for most of the first period, as the Capitals owned the puck possession battle, and used it to score two goals in the first 12-minutes of the game.
A beautiful give-and-go between Troy Brouwer and Mikail Grabovski gave the Caps a 1-0 lead, the goal was Grabovski’s 11th of the season. Brouwer and Eric Fehr got assist on the goal.
A little more than four minutes later, while on the power play, Nicklas Backstrom scored his ninth goal on a beautiful snipe shot from the top of the circle. Backstrom held the puck waiting for an opportunity to present itself, but when Ducks’ defender Francois Beauchemin did pressure him, Backstrom took the shot instead and ripped it past Hiller.
But as they have all season, the Ducks fought their way back into the game the only way they know how, by outworking their opponents down low. Their relentless effort led to the Cogliano scored with less than three minutes left in the period.
The second period was played completely different, as in the first, both team’s had to fight their way in the offensive zone, but in the following period entries and chances were a little easier to come by.
It took over 19-minutes for a team to finally capitalize on the opened space, as Saku Koivu scored his fifth of the season.
After a quick tick-tac-toe pass in the defensive end, Ben Lovejoy ended up with the puck and took it through the neutral zone into the offensive zone, and took the puck behind the goal line before sliding the puck back in front of the net. From there, Koivu was able to find the open spot and put the puck in the net to tie the game back up at two.
The third period saw both teams give it their all to earn the two points in the standings, which made for some great hockey, things seemed destined to go to overtime.
But then as they have done all season, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry went to work. On a give-and-go of their own, Getzlaf fired a puck on net in which the rebound was found by Lindholm at the point after all five Capitals pinched in on and went completely by them. Lindholm then made a move a fired a puck on a helpless Philipp Grubauer, who couldn’t see through the madness in front of the net.
Ovechkin, in his career, has scored 150-third period goals, and he almost had number-151 on a wrist shot from the slot that beat Hiller but rang off the crossbar and straight down, causing a divot in the crease. The goal horn went off, and the crowd went crazy, but the refs stayed calm and waived the goal off and kept play going until the next stoppage.
After reviewing the play during the next stoppage, the play was upheld, much to the dismay of the Caps’ faithful.
As time ran out, the Ducks guaranteed that they will enter the brief Christmas break with more points than any other team in the NHL, and will continue their season on Saturday at the Honda Center against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Anthony is the Editor at Pucks of a Feather. You can reach him by email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @AMurphyTFC.