On the second half of back-to-backs and a nine-day break looming, the Ducks went into PNC Arena and were able to do something they haven't been able to do since Oct. 29-Nov. 1: win consecutive games. It's been a remarkable stretch of unfortunate outcomes that have prevented them from stringing together multiple wins, but tonight they rallied together and came out with a 2-1 overtime victory over the Carolina Hurricanes in thrilling fashion.
Sam Steel was the hero tonight, scoring on a partial breakaway 1:36 into sudden death that sent the Ducks bench into a frenzy. It was a game the Ducks deserved the win, and tonight they were rewarded for their effort.
"It's huge," Steel said, on finishing the road trip with consecutive wins. "We haven't been getting the wins we've wanted over the last month, but it's a big confidence boost. We really wanted these last two. We came out and played really well. It's big."
They needed Ryan Miller to be good, and the veteran netminder was great. Making his first start in 10 days, Miller allowed just one goal on 26 shots to improve his record this season to 5-5-2. The East Lansing, Michigan native has been lights out in his career vs. Carolina, boosting his record to 18-9-4 in 32 appearances against the Hurricanes.
"Last two games have been good," said Miller, who is now just two wins shy of tying Mike Vernon (385) for 15th place on the NHL's all-time wins list for goaltenders. "We played with structure. We were on top of pucks tonight, and it showed. We got through that first period against a team that's good in this building in the first period. We were above things. We weren't letting them open up the rush game. It's a good road win for us."
The Ducks continued their torrid stretch against the Hurricanes. With their victory tonight, the Ducks have won seven of their last eight against the Hurricanes dating to Nov. 10, 2016 (7-1-0), and have gone 10-2-0 in their last 12. They've also won a club-record six straight at PNC Arena dating to Feb. 12, 2015.
Erik Gudbranson provided the offensive punch in regulation with his career-tying fourth goal of the season. The rugged defenseman cruised down the slot and beat Hurricanes goaltender James Reimer with a shot through the five hole for his fourth of the season (all with the Ducks). Not since the 2014-15 season with Florida has he scored this many in a season.
Video: ANA@CAR: Gudbranson scores through Reimer's five-hole
It was a comeback effort for the scrappy Ducks, who had to erase a one-goal deficit just 3:59 into the game when Sebastian Aho got a piece of a point shot for his team-leading 24th goal of the season.
Once the game got to overtime, the Ducks staved off a few chances from the Hurricanes before they made their push. It started when the Hurricanes coughed up the puck at the Anaheim blueline. Then, Jakob Silfverberg quickly sent an outlet pass into the neutral zone where he caught Steel in full flight. The young center fended off Hurricanes defenseman Jake Gardiner before sending a wrist shot blocker side to give the Ducks the victory.
Video: ANA@CAR: Steel buries game-winner on a breakaway
The 21-year-old admits he was caught behind the play when opportunity struck. "[Carolina] broke up a good rush and had a 3-on-2," Steel said. "I got caught there, but a great pass from Silvy. Just tried to get it above the pad, and it went in."
Up next for the Ducks is a nine-day break that includes their bye week and All-Star Weekend. They'll resume action on Jan. 27 at San Jose.