ANAHEIM - With the game on the line, it came as little surprise that Jakob Silfverberg came to the rescue.
The hottest Duck of them all scored the go-ahead goal with 4:43 left in the game to lift the Ducks to a hard-fought 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers at Honda Center. That snapped a four-game winning streak for the Panthers and gave Anaheim wins in three of its last four. The Ducks also handed Florida rookie goalie Sam Montembeault his first regulation defeat (4-1-1).
Silfverberg gave the Ducks the lead for good on a gorgeous backhand from just outside the crease after Rickard Rakell battled to win the puck behind the net and got it to him. It was the team-leading 22nd of the season and fourth in the last five games for Silfverberg.
Video: FLA@ANA: Silfverberg nets backhand to give Ducks lead
"I think we have been playing pretty good throughout the last three weeks even in these last few games we have had some ups and downs but we have done a really good job making sure that the down periods haven't been too far," Silfverberg said. "\Even tonight I don't think we controlled the whole game but we managed to stay in the game and our lows aren't too low. We managed to find a way to win and have been playing pretty good lately, we are feeling pretty good about ourselves."
The Ducks hung on despite getting drastically outshot by the Panthers, 39-22, and goalie John Gibson made a couple of his 37 saves in the final minute with the Florida net empty.
"It seems that we have a different mentality," Gibson said of Anaheim's improved play of late. "We just needed to change the atmosphere, it's a little more upbeat and it just seems that we are playing more of a team game. I think the biggest thing I've noticed is our compete level, whether we are winning or losing."
Devin Shore provided the game's first goal a minute and a half into the game, and just 14 seconds into a Ducks power play, gathering in a long rebound and slinging it inside the right post.
Video: FLA@ANA: Shore pots loose puck for an early PPG
Shore called the goal, "A bit of a lucky bounce, but if you're getting pucks to the net and getting bodies there then maybe sometimes you get a lucky bounce. It's been going good lately and hopefully we can keep it going."
It only took eleven seconds into the second period for Florida to tie it, with Jonathan Huberdeau slipping a pass to Evgenii Dadonov on the rush for the tap-in.
A beauty of a goal by Adam Henrique regained the lead for Anaheim with eight minutes left in the second. Henrique chased down a Ryan Getzlaf pass off the boards before taking the puck to the net, undressing Florida d-man Aaron Ekblad and burying a shot.
Video: FLA@ANA: Henrique scores on rush after nifty toe drag
Florida tied it back up 3 1/2 minutes into the third on a redirect by Ekblad off a Huberdeau feed.
The Ducks dodged a bullet not long afterward when the puck got behind Ducks goalie John Gibson on a Huberdeau tip and danced along the goal stripe without going in.
The puck luck went the other way with 8 1/2 minutes left in the game when Getzlaf got open on a breakway and rang the left post with a wrister, but it was Silfverberg who ultimately provided the game-winner.
The Ducks will look to keep it going at home, Wednesday vs. Winnipeg and Friday vs. San Jose. Anaheim will most likely miss the postseason for just the third time since 2005, but there is still something to play for in the last eight games.
"The one thing I've learned, obviously we want to be higher but this team has a lot of character," said Ducks assistant coach Marty Wilford. "You've seen it in the past here. They aren't just going to lay down and quit and play the game, so they're here to compete and to win and here to get better and they are showing the younger guys how we are going to do things around here."