ANAHEIM -- Moral victories don't carry a whole lot of cache in the NHL, but the Ducks have to be satisfied with what they pulled off in an endlessly entertaining 6-5 overtime loss to the Vegas Golden Knights tonight at Honda Center.
All but left for dead down 5-3 with three minutes left in the game, the Ducks got two goals from Adam Henrique in a span of 1:42 to send the game to OT. Henrique had two different chances to win it in the extra session, as did Rickard Rakell, who clanged a shot off the left post that would have ended it.
Instead, a Ryan Getzlaf turnover in the Vegas end opened the door for a Shea Theodore snipe from the right wing that clinched it for the Golden Knights with 1:10 left in OT.
"It was good to get the comeback," Henrique said. "You play to win. I thought we did a good job pushing back and getting after it."
The Ducks' improbable comeback started with just under three minutes left and goalie John Gibson on the bench for an extra attacker, as Henrique swept in a rebound to make it a 5-4 game.
Video: VGK@ANA: Henrique corrals the puck and tucks it home
Gibson headed off again with two minutes left in the game, and the Ducks tied it when a crashing Henrique jammed in a floating puck inside the right post to ignite the Honda Center crowd.
Video: VGK@ANA: Henrique scores his second goal to tie game
Nick Ritchie's assist on the play gave him two helpers along with his two goals, a career-high four-point night for the winger.
Ritchie's second goal of the night tied the game just 21 seconds into the third period, but Vegas center (and former Duck) William Karlsson came back with his second and third of the night to seemingly put the game away. That was until the heroics of Henrique, who might have had his first career hat trick and the OT winner if not for a couple of big stops by Vegas netminder Malcolm Subban.
Vegas (33-22-8) won for the sixth straight time to increase its lead atop the Pacific Division.
"It was a fun one to be a part of," Ritchie said. "We haven't had many of those this year. We're not really a team that plays a shootout style, but it turned into that tonight. We weren't on the right side of it, but it was still a good comeback in the third."
Anaheim's (24-30-8) tying goal early in the period came when Troy Terry slipped a backhand pass to Ritchie, who buried it to make it a 3-3 game. Ritchie sent the puck past a scrambling Subban, who was swimming in his crease after stopping a Henrique wraparound try. It marked the first two-goal game for Ritchie since November 28, 2018 at Florida.
Video: VGK@ANA: Terry sets up Ritchie's second goal of game
The lead didn't last long, as the game's first penalty led to a Vegas power play goal from Karlsson, a shot from the left dot for his second tally of the game.
The hat trick came with just under nine minutes left, a nifty backhander from just outside the crease that dove under the crossbar. Mark Stone made the great feed that set Karlsson up in that spot.
"Right from the start, it was a good hockey game," said Ducks coach Dallas Eakins. "There was lots of talk in the dressing room before. They were really engaged and it carried into the game. We could've made a choice when it went to 5-3. We could've chosen to get through it and start thinking about our next game, or we could choose to dig in and fight on. Good on the group for making the right choice."
A frenetic pace over the opening 13 minutes saw no stoppages in play until Patrick Brown punched in a loose puck from just outside the crease to make it 1-0 Vegas. It was the second career goal for Brown, who was just recalled by the Golden Knights for the first time today and hadn't played in the NHL since the 2016-17 season with Carolina.
Despite the back-and-forth, the Ducks had only one shot to Vegas' nine through the opening 15 minutes, and they looked poised to finish the first period scoreless. That was until Devin Shore deftly tipped through a shot from the point with just 0.6 seconds left on the clock to tie it 1-1.
Video: VGK@ANA: Shore redirects Guhle's shot by Subban
"It's a division rivalry. The building is loud. It's always fun to play in a loud building," Shore said. "As players, we hear the fans going back at it. They play a tough style of game to play against. In order to be successful against them, you have to match that. It ends up being a pretty intense game."
Anaheim took its first lead halfway through the second period when Ritchie pounced a turnover in the Vegas end and shuffled the puck under Subban.
Video: VGK@ANA: Ritchie converts on turnover for lead
Vegas tied it with four minutes left in the period on a pretty backdoor tap-in by Alec Martinez, his second as a Golden Knight since coming over in a trade from LA earlier this week. He had just one goal with the Kings in 41 games before the trade.
The Golden Knights regained the lead with under a minute left in the frame on a Karlsson shot that Ducks goalie Gibson likely never saw because of a screen in front of him.
Anaheim's six-game homestand rolls on with Tuesday's bout vs. Edmonton on Tuesday, but first is the NHL Trade Deadline tomorrow at noon PT.