DENVER – Ryan Getzlaf acknowledged he didn't hold out much hope of leaving the Pepsi Center with even a point Tuesday night -- much less two points.
The Anaheim Ducks were down by two goals with fewer than eight minutes remaining in regulation despite launching shot after shot at Colorado Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson, who continued to make one big stop after another.
"When you're down 2-0 with eight minutes left, you pretty much think things are almost wrapped up," Getzlaf said after the Ducks scored four times in the final 7 1/2 minutes to pull out a stirring 4-2 win. "We battled pretty hard at the end of the game and we got a few bounces here and there, and we were able to get back on board."
After the Ducks pulled even on goals by Scott Niedermayer with 7:34 to play and Dan Sexton with 4:05 remaining, the game seem headed to overtime until the Avalanche iced the puck with 37.5 seconds left.
The Avalanche won the draw, but Anaheim's Bobby Ryan forced a turnover and Corey Perry took the puck to the net. Anderson managed to poke-check the puck away, but Getzlaf knocked it in with 25.9 seconds to play.
"They won the draw, but my wingers did a great job getting in there," Getzlaf said. "Bobby forced them into a turnover and Perry takes the puck to the net nine times out of 10. I'm well aware of that, so I followed him in there. I was fortunate that (Anderson) poked it and I was able to grab it."
Todd Marchant capped the remarkable rally by scoring into an empty net with 10.4 seconds to play.
The Ducks, who play in Phoenix on Wednesday, have gone 5-1-3 in their past nine games to move above the .500 mark (15-14-7) for the first time since Oct. 14, when they were 3-2-1.
"We hope this picks up everybody's confidence, but we haven't played poorly in a long time," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "Our record doesn't indicate that we've had a strong season, but if you check our record over the last 10 games, our play has improved."
Despite the devastating loss, the Avalanche heads into the Christmas break in first place in the Northwest Division with a 21-12-6 record and 48 points, its third-highest total at the holiday break since the team arrived in Denver for the 1995-96 season.
"We are still in first place and we know we are a great hockey team," Avalanche defenseman Scott Hannan said. "When you play 82 games, these things are going to happen. We have to find a way to win these games when you don't have your legs and you're playing in your own end and you have a two-goal lead and your goalie is playing great."
The Ducks owned a huge territorial edge and outshot the Avalanche, 43-17.
The Avalanche had taken its 2-0 lead on goals by Paul Stastny at 3:28 of the third period after rookie Brandon Yip, playing in his third NHL game, ripped a hard shot behind Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller at 2:09 of the opening period.
The score remained that way, thanks to Anderson, until Niedermayer broke through with a controversial goal. Niedermayer flipped the puck into the net as Anderson was knocked down in a collision with Ryan and teammate Kyle Quincey.
"Ryan just drives the net and goes right over Andy, takes me and Andy out in the net and Niedermayer puts it in," Quincey said. "That can't be a goal. We were both in the net. Ryan's behind the goal line in the net. I didn't push him."
The Avalanche complained, but to no avail.
"Andy's laying on his back … how's he supposed to make a save?" Quincey asked. "What's considered goaltender interference if that's not?
"Now we're back on our heels again and we're waiting for something to happen and it did. If they don't score there, it probably ends up 2-0. It's a huge turning point."
Sexton netted the tying goal after taking a goalmouth pass from Saku Koivu. Getzlaf and his wingers did the rest.
"There was a big-time play by three big-time players to score the winner," Carlyle said. "We weren't frustrated. We felt if we continued to stay with the program and continue to grind … we talked about being hungrier, being a lot more abrasive in front of the net.
"It would have been easy to show frustration, but I didn't sense any. I think that shows some signs of maturity of your players. They've been through a few of these situations before and you just stay with it, stick with it and hopefully a break goes your way, and we got one."
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