ANAHEIM - After a half-season of struggling mightily in overtime, the Ducks needed a big break to finally get off the schneid.
Tied 2-2 with the struggling Arizona Coyotes late in a mostly middling 3-on-3 OT period, the Ducks were handed a gift when Arizona goalie Mike Smith badly misplayed the puck while trying to clear his crease. Anaheim rookie Ondrej Kase was right there to pick off the surrendered disk and send it home from just outside the crease to seize a long overdue extra-session victory.
Said Kase of the goal, "I saw him with the puck. I don't know what happened though. I was surprised. I saw the puck and just shot it."
Video: ARI@ANA: Kase takes advantage of Smith's OT blunder
"We'll take it any way we can," said defenseman Cam Fowler, who played a large portion of the overtime period. "Our game management in overtime and the way we controlled the puck and got fresh guys on the ice was much better. It was a fluky goal, but we did the things to put ourselves in the position to get the win."
The Ducks had previously been 0-7 in overtime this season, 4-14 since the NHL switched to the 3-on-3 format prior to last season. And this one appeared headed to a shootout until Smith's egregious error led to a ninth straight defeat to for the Coyotes, who are mired in second-to-last place in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the Ducks vaulted into first place alone in the Pacific Division after winning three in a row and earning points in the last seven.
As has been the case in all of their three straight victories, this one wasn't exactly pretty for the Ducks, whose offensive attack may have been hindered by playingm again without captain Ryan Getzlaf, who sat out a second straight game with a lower body ailment.
"Kase capitalized on a misplay by Smith, but it's a huge point for us," Ducks winger Jakob Silfverberg said. "Big two points. Our division is really tight. That extra point is going to be big in the end. Huge win for us."
The Ducks went in front 6 1/2 minutes into the game on a goal that appeared to go to Corey Perry, but was credited to rookie Joseph Cramarossa. Perry's wrist shot from the slot just barely deflected off a screening Cramarossa in the crease before darting past Smith. It would have been nice for Perry, who has now gone 11 games without a goal, but he settled for his 23rd assist on the season (second on the Ducks).
Video: ARI@ANA: Cramarossa redirects Perry's smooth wrister
Arizona got even early in the second period when Anthony Duclair made a nice feed to a crashing Martin Hanzal, who deflected it in off his leg. It was a little retribution for Duclair who was robbed in the first period when he was all alone in front of the Anaheim net, and goalie John Gibson dove across the crease to get a piece of a puck that hit the cross bar and landed a foot short of the stripe.
Anaheim went back in front with just under four minutes left in the second on a bad angle shot by Chris Wagner from the right corner that somehow snuck under Smith.
Video: ARI@ANA: Wagner beats Smith for sharp-angle goal
Phoenix tied it again early in the third on the power play, as a goal mouth scramble concluded with Gibson losing sight of the puck and Oliver Ekman-Larsson backhanding a bouncing puck over the stripe.
For a second straight game, the Ducks held their opponent to just 23 shots, a welcome respite after giving up 55 in a victory over Philadelphia on Sunday.
"We finally got the monkey off our back," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "It's been too long and too many points that went by the wayside. Tonight we found a way to get it done. It's nice to see a young kid, who had lots of chances in the game, deliver in overtime."
Anaheim looks to make it four in a row Sunday vs. Minnesota, the first return to Honda Center of former Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau.