Despite playing a man down for the majority of the night on the second half of back-to-backs, the Ducks gave it everything they had. Unfortunately, their incredible comeback fell short in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Friday.
The Ducks erased a two-goal deficit in the third period with goals less than five minutes apart from Max Jones and Adam Henrique, but the Maple Leafs regained the lead with under four minutes left in regulation on Jason Spezza's go-ahead tally. Then, with 58 seconds left on the clock, the Ducks tied it again with Derek Grant's 13th goal of the season - a new career high.
The game went to overtime, when, with under two minutes remaining, Rickard Rakell was whistled for tripping. With just six seconds left on the clock, John Tavares scored the game-winning goal - his second goal of the game - to put an end to Anaheim's comeback.
"Five on five, in that third period, we came out gunning," said Jones. "In the locker room, a lot of the veterans pitched in and talked to everyone. We were all excited to get back out there in the third to turn things around. We should be pretty proud of ourselves with the way we played."
It was an uphill battle for the majority of the game, and it began at the 12:18 mark of the first period when defenseman Erik Gudbranson left with an upper-body injury after colliding with Leafs forward Zach Hyman. Gudbranson played just 3:35 at the time of the injury, and didn't return.
Nicolas Deslauriers got the Ducks on the board with a blistering one-timer from the right faceoff dot that erased a one-goal deficit. The goal, his second of the season, came at the 10:36 mark of the first period - six minutes after the Leafs opened the scoring when Andreas Johnsson finished a 3-on-2 rush for his eighth goal of the season.
Video: ANA@TOR: Deslauriers rips Fowler's nice pass home
From then on, the Maple Leafs took charge. Tavares gave his club a 2-1 lead at the 3:38 mark of the second period with a power-play goal from the right faceoff dot.
Then, Auston Matthews doubled the lead when he converted on an odd-man rush for his team-leading 40th goal of the season with seven minutes left in the middle frame.
But just when it seemed like the Ducks were dead to rights, they made a push. It started with Jones, who raced in on a breakaway and roofed a backhander on Jack Campbell for his seventh goal of the season, and the first of his career on the PK. It marked Anaheim's 10th shorthanded goal of the season, tying a single-season franchise mark set three times previously: 1995-96, 2013-14 and 2017-18.
Video: ANA@TOR: Jones backhands puck home for SHG
The Ducks tied the game at the 12:47 mark of the third period when Henrique batted the puck out of mid-air past Campbell for his team-leading 18th goal of the season. It ended an 0-for-15 drought on the power play, and it came a little more than four minutes after Jones' goal.
Video: ANA@TOR: Henrique bats home PPG to tie game
After Spezza gave the Leafs a 4-3 lead with under four minutes to play, the Ducks eventually got the equalizer in the final minute when Grant muscled the puck past Campbell for his 13th goal overall and his third in the past four games.
Video: ANA@TOR: Grant credited with goal after deflection
Ryan Miller was under siege for most of the game, and finished with 29 saves on 34 shots. The 39-year-old netminder remains one win shy of tying Mike Vernon (385) for 15th place on the NHL's all-time wins list.
Making his Maple Leafs debut, Campbell turned aside 26-of-30 shots for his ninth win of the season. He, along with forward Kyle Clifford, were acquired from the LA Kings on Wednesday in exchange for forward Trevor Moore, Columbus' third-round pick in 2020 (previously acquired from Ottawa on July 1, 2019) and a conditional third-round pick in 2021. Clifford also made his Maple Leafs debut tonight, going scoreless in 12:03 TOI.
The Ducks will close out their five-game road trip on Sunday afternoon in Buffalo (12 p.m. PT).