Koivu tipped Ben Lovejoy's shot past Thomas Greiss 51 seconds into overtime to gave the Ducks 3-2 win against the Phoenix Coyotes. Koivu, though, said the result was "more luck than anything else." Yet the Ducks have proven their place atop the NHL standings (Anaheim and the Chicago Blackhawks have 61 points) is due to sheer talent and a will to win by creating their own breaks.
Sunday night against the San Jose Sharks, the Ducks have an opportunity to extend their run to 11 games. Already riding an 11-0-2 stretch, three shy of a club record, in which it hasn't lost in regulation, Anaheim takes a six-game road winning streak and League-high 14 road victories into SAP Center, where the Sharks are 13-1-3, in a battle of Western Conference goliaths.
The Ducks will be looking to avenge a 4-3 shootout loss Nov. 30 in their previous trip to San Jose. They lost their next game, Dec. 3 to the Los Angeles Kings, but there's been no stopping them since. Whether it's by blowout, a third-period rally, in high-scoring or low-scoring games, or through a dramatic goal in the extra session, Anaheim has created ways to win.
What makes the Ducks' success more amazing is that they're getting it done in the stacked Pacific Division and Western Conference, where they're 8-0-2 and 14-2-2, respectively.
"The League is so competitive … we've been able to find ways to win games," Koivu said. "There's been a few that we've been down by a few goals but found ways to win the games and get the goals that we needed. Even though we know there's a lot of good things, we've got to find a bit more consistency when things are going well to push it a little more, but 10 wins is not easy and it's something that we can build on."
The Ducks' win Saturday came despite blowing a two-goal lead in the final minutes. Koivu's second goal of the game, and No. 251 of his career, improved Anaheim's record to 28-7-5 and 14-0-2 at Honda Center. The Ducks are the only team in the League this season not to lose in regulation at home, and they're seven points ahead of the Kings and Sharks atop the Pacific Division.
"It is something to be proud of. We wanted this 10th win," Lovejoy said. "This was a big one."
Anaheim's December is dotted with noteworthy accomplishments.
* Anaheim is off to their second-best 40-game start in franchise history (2006-07: 28-6-6, 62 points).
* The last NHL team to win 10 or more consecutive games was the Pittsburgh Penguins (15 straight from March 2-30, 2013), and the Ducks are the third team from the Western Conference to win 10 or more consecutive games since 2005-06, joining the Blackhawks (11 in 2012-13) and Sharks (11 in 2007-08).
* Anaheim boasts a contender for the Hart Trophy in Ryan Getzlaf (19-25-44), but goalie Jonas Hiller (17-4-4, 2.39 goals-against average, .913 save percentage) is quietly making his way into the Vezina conversation. Hiller's eight consecutive wins matches a franchise record set by Viktor Fasth from Jan. 26-Feb. 16, 2013.
"I think it's neat," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Anytime you can get to be part of something that nobody else has done, I think it's a special occasion. I don't make light of it. I think No. 10 is magic when you get into streaks, because it doesn't happen very often."
The Ducks' run has been nothing short of magical and has a chance to grow even larger in magnitude Sunday in San Jose.
Here is a look at the results that have formed Anaheim's march into the team record books and provided a December to remember for fans of the Ducks. (Home team in CAPS)
Dec. 6: Ducks 3, BLACKHAWKS 2 (SO)
Off consecutive shootout losses to the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks, the Ducks turned the tables in their favor when Jonas Hiller stopped Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane in the tiebreaker for the victory.
Dec. 7: Ducks 5, BLUES 2
"We feel like we're an elite team," Getzlaf said then. "And now we're starting to show it."
The win gave the Ducks 45 points, tying them with the Blackhawks for best in the NHL.
Dec. 9: DUCKS 5, Islanders 2
Home after two big wins on the road, the Ducks defeated the New York Islanders. Corey Perry scored two goals, and captain Getzlaf extended his point streak to 12 games to improve Anaheim's record at Honda Center to 11-0-2.
Dec. 11: DUCKS 2, Wild 1
Anaheim's surge continued with another home victory paced by its top stars. Perry scored in his seventh straight game, and Getzlaf extended his point streak to 13. Jonas Hiller made 23 saves to give the Ducks four wins in six days.
Dec. 15: DUCKS 3, Oilers 2
Anaheim's victory against the Edmonton Oilers showed that old warhorses can still rely on time-honored tricks. Teemu Selanne, who had not scored in 19 games, received a text from former teammate Paul Kariya, who told him to get into "the dirty areas" on the ice. Selanne ended what matched the longest goal drought of his two-decade career in the NHL with goal No. 679.
"He said, 'Just go to the net, and good things happen,'" Selanne said.
Dustin Penner scored the tie-breaking goal with 3:17 to play and Getzlaf extended his point streak to 14 games.
Dec. 17: Ducks 5, RED WINGS 2
A four-goal first period sparked the Ducks to their sixth straight win. It was the first game between Anaheim and the Detroit Red Wings since Detroit defeated Anaheim in seven games in the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Dec. 20: Ducks 3, DEVILS 2 (OT)
Anaheim right wing Kyle Palmieri enjoyed a happy homecoming. The native of Montvale, N.J., scored at 2:37 of overtime to lead the Ducks past the New Jersey Devils for their second seven-game winning streak of the season. The Ducks previously won seven straight from Oct. 5-20 and Feb. 20-March 7, 1999.
Dec. 21: Ducks 5, ISLANDERS 3
Trailing 3-1, the Ducks scored four times in the third period to defeat the Islanders for their team-record eighth straight victory. Getzlaf completed a hat trick with an empty-net goal that sealed the win for Anaheim in its first visit to Long Island since a 3-2 loss on Dec. 16, 2010.
Dec. 23: Ducks 3, CAPITALS 2
The game-winning goal by rookie defenseman Hampus Lindholm at 14:24 of the third period completed a Ducks rally to their ninth straight victory. The win marked a successful return to Verizon Center for Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau.
"Nine in a row, that's pretty cool," the former Capitals coach said.
Dec. 28: DUCKS 3, Coyotes 2 (OT)
After blowing a two-goal lead in the final minutes of regulation, Saku Koivu picked a good time to score career goal No. 251. Koivu scored two goals, including the game winner 51 seconds into overtime, and the Ducks' franchise-record winning streak grew to 10 games with a 3-2 victory against the Phoenix Coyotes. Anaheim moved to a League-best 28-7-5 and 14-0-2 at Honda Center.
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