ANAHEIM – Despite opening day of Angels baseball going on across the street, there was no better place to be in Orange County tonight than Honda Center.
The Ducks, at one time looking listless while facing an early 4-0 deficit to the visiting Winnipeg Jets, made the greatest comeback in franchise history by scoring five unanswered to somehow pull off a 5-4 overtime victory. The Ducks never before had come back to win from a four-goal deficit, and tonight they did it in stunning fashion.
Corey Perry scored the tying goal with 22.7 seconds left in regulation, and Stephane Robidas scored his first as a Duck just 16 seconds into OT to seal the improbable victory.
Robidas took in a feed from Andrew Cogliano and snapped a shot from between the circles that slid along the ice through traffic and got underneath goalie Ondrej Pavelec, nearly blowing the roof off Honda Center. The win increased Anaheim’s (49-18-8) lead in the Pacific Division by three over second-place San Jose with just seven regular season games remaining.
"You’re down 4-0 and you come back, 4-4. Now the pressure is on the other team because they gave up a lead like that," Robidas said. "We just tried to play our game. I got lucky and it went in."
But the dramatic comeback wouldn’t have happened without Perry’s desperation goal late in regulation, as Ryan Getzlaf shuttled the puck in front from behind the net, and Perry chipped it off the far post and in just before bowling over Pavelec.
"Being down 4-0 halfway through the game, it’s tough to overcome," Perry said. "But we said in here, if we keep pushing and playing that style we established in the second half of the second period, no team can play with us. That’s the way we’ve got to keep playing."
The comeback was something few in the building could have foreseen after the Ducks looked dead in the water for the first period and a half. The Jets thoroughly dominated the Ducks in the first, outshooting Anaheim 19-4 and getting goals from Jacob Trouba and Matt Halischuk.
Trouba got the Jets on the board 8:48 into the period when he roofed a shot under the crossbar from in deep. Almost five minutes later, Halischuk punched in a rebound after Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen couldn’t control an Evander Kane shot.
A bad period got worse when Luca Sbisa took a hooking penalty with a few seconds left, and the Jets capitalized early in the second. Blake Wheeler sprinted unimpeded down the left wing on the ensuing power play and scored just 33 seconds into the frame.
Winnipeg made it 4-0 halfway through the second, as Zach Redmond made a pinpoint pass to former Ducks prospect Eric Tangradi for the one-timer.
Nick Bonino gave the Ducks some life with 2:16 left in the second, skating around the back of the net and backhanding the puck into the opposite top corner for his 20th of the year.
The Ducks came roaring back in the third, outshooting Winnipeg 11-0 in the first 6:42 and getting goals from Getzlaf and Hampus Lindholm to get within one. Getzlaf connected on the power play, banging in a beautiful backhand pass across the crease from Patrick Maroon.
Soon afterward, Daniel Winnik deftly cut into the slot before letting go of a shot that bounced hard off Pavelec, allowing Lindholm to put back the rebound.
The Ducks tried valiantly to get the tying goal, and finally did it with Andersen on the bench for an extra attacker, as the combo of Getzlaf and Perry came through yet again. Then Robidas became the hero in just his seventh game as a Duck, after coming over via trade with Dallas and sitting out his first two weeks in Anaheim with a fractured leg.
"We beared down and did what we needed to do in the third period," Getzlaf said. "That’s about all we can take out of this one. It was a character win. We were able to come back and play the way we needed to play. We’ll watch that video and learn from it. Those are two big points for us."
Though the drama happened with Andersen on the bench, he was a major reason the Ducks had a chance to tie, as he made a number of big late saves among his 33 on the evening.
"When you always believe you can win, you’re never out of the game," said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. "I think that was what happened tonight. We were so vastly outplayed in the first 35 minutes of the game. But when [Nick] Bonino scored and Freddie [Andersen] made the big save 20 seconds later, we thought if we could get another one, you never know."