ANAHEIM -- It's only late November, but the tone of their voices made it feel like spring.
Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf explained a lost third period. Down the hallway, Travis Zajac and the New Jersey Devils were basically surprised by the two points they secured.
It took time to sort out the frantic final minutes, but Zajac was credited with the overtime goal that gave New Jersey a 4-3 win to cap a strange Wednesday night at Honda Center.
After Getzlaf missed on a terrific chance in overtime, New Jersey went the other way. Dainius Zubrus got the puck on the right side before Zajac directed it toward net. Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy tried to clear it from the front, but his attempt hit Corey Perry and went into the net at 1:58.
"That was one of the luckiest goals I've ever scored, but I'll take those any day of the week," Zajac joked. "I was really tired, but I was able to try and get myself a little open and the pass kind of bobbled it [off] my skates. I just tried to kick it on net. It looks like they tried to clear it and [it went in] off their guy. Pretty lucky.
"It's big because this is a good team at home, and just overall, they're big, they're strong, they make good plays. For us, on the West Coast, it's a big win to start the road trip."
The Devils forced overtime on Jaromir Jagr's 6-on-5 goal with 61 seconds remaining in regulation. Patrik Elias sent a wobbly pass from behind the net to Jagr, who tapped it past Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller for his eighth goal.
Anaheim remained unbeaten in regulation at home (8-0-1), but it is 0-3-2 in its past five games. Coach Bruce Boudreau said his team was guilty of playing not to lose in the third, and there was a distinct sense of dissatisfaction in Anaheim's dressing room.
"It's not losing games that bugs you so much, it's the way you lose them," Getzlaf said. "We played a good, hard hockey team. We played a pretty solid game. We had lapses throughout the game like anybody else, but when you have it on your stick with a minute left in the game, we've got to be able to close it out.
"We dig in. We expect big things out of our group, and this is not acceptable. Bad bounce or not, it's a scoring chance against that went in our net. We've got to be better as a group."
Anaheim lost defenseman Francois Beauchemin to an upper-body injury in the second period. Beauchemin appeared to crash into the boards and played three shifts in the second before heading to the dressing room.
"Right now it's day-to-day," Boudreau said. "It just was an upper-body injury, but to lose him for any time is a big thing."
The Ducks erased a 2-1 deficit when Nick Bonino scored during a two-man advantage 2:28 into the second, when he put a rebound past Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. It was Bonino's sixth goal of the season, a career high.
Thirteen minutes later, Getzlaf delivered one of his signature bursts of dominance in the second period to give Anaheim a 3-2 lead. With Steve Yzerman, executive director of Canada for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, in attendance, Getzlaf scored on a rocket slap shot for a power-play goal.
But Anaheim's Dustin Penner took a hooking penalty on Jagr to start the third, and New Jersey started its push. It outshot Anaheim 13-6 in the third period and overtime, and Boudreau felt his team was sitting back.
"That's all I talked about," Boudreau said. "[Our] two previous games that we had this week against Florida and Pittsburgh, and we play not to lose in the third period. I said, 'I want to be aggressive. I want to keep coming after them.' And I don't think the penalty at the seven-second mark helped. It put us on our heels a bit. But you can't play the game in your own zone and expect to win."
The second period was a forgettable period for the Devils, who failed to put a shot on goal in the first 12:37 and were outshot 11-3, not counting Zubrus' shot off the post. Two of those three shots came in the final minute.
In a game that featured 43-year-old Teemu Selanne and the 41-year-old Jagr, the two oldest active players in the NHL, it was Brodeur who was the most active of the 40-somethings. His best save was a glove grab against Perry in the first.
Brodeur improved to 5-0-0 in his past five starts.
"Probably the best goalie in the League right now," Jagr said. "He might go to the Olympics. I don't think he wanted to but …"
Jagr smiled. Across the way it was a far different mood, even for the Western Conference-leading Ducks.
"It's even tougher to swallow that we're on a losing streak right now," Lovejoy said. "Up 3-2 with very little time left, they get a late goal. I think that we were still trying to win that game. They came back on an odd-man rush. Jonas made the initial save. I tried to clear it into the corner. Fired it off Perry's shin pad."
After Matt Beleskey opened the scoring for Anaheim 11:31 into the game, New Jersey got power-play goals by Marek Zidlicky and Eric Gelinas 86 seconds apart for a 2-1 lead late in the first. They came during a double-minor high sticking penalty to Selanne, although it appeared that Zidlicky accidentally clipped teammate Andy Greene.
Zidlicky promptly scored on a turnaround slap shot that beat Hiller five-hole at 15:44, and Gelinas one-timed Adam Henrique's pass from the left side at 17:10.