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Mighty Ducks 5, Avalanche 4, OT @NHLdotcom

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - After a lackluster start against the Colorado Avalanche, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks finished strongly and came away with an improbable victory that strengthened their playoff chances.

Jonathan Hedstrom scored on a penalty shot with 1:38 left in overtime, and the Ducks rallied from a three-goal deficit to beat the Avalanche 5-4 Wednesday night.

Scott Niedermayer scored twice on the power play, Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and an assist and rookie Chris Kunitz set up two goals, including the equalizer by Andy McDonald with 12:57 left in regulation.

"You have to credit the players. They deserve all the credit in the world," coach Randy Carlyle said. "It's just an exclamation point to the resiliency that they've been able to show over the course of the season. We were down 3-0 at one point, then 4-1, but they didn't panic. We still found a way. They stuck to the game plan and they never wavered."

It was only the third time in the franchise's 13-year history that the Ducks have won after trailing by as many as three goals. The only other teams to beat the Avalanche this season when trailing after two periods were Nashville on Oct. 12 and Dallas on Jan. 26. Both games were in Denver.

"You can't just sit on a lead and expect to win those games," Colorado's Ian Laperriere said. "That's what we did, and they came at us pretty hard. We got at least one point, but that's not what we came here for."

Joe Sakic, Brett McLean, Anti Laaksonen and Pierre Turgeon scored for the Avalanche, who lost an opportunity to tie idle Calgary for first place in the Northwest Division. Six teams are separated by six points and two of them aren't going to get in. Colorado is fifth and Anaheim is one point behind in sixth.

Rob Blake had three assists, but committed a costly turnover that led to Anaheim's third goal of the game.

Hedstrom stickhandled past defenseman Patrice Brisebois in the neutral zone and went in alone on rookie goaltender Peter Budaj, but was hauled down from behind by McLean. Referee Shane Heyer awarded Hedstrom his first career penalty shot, and he flipped the puck between Budaj's pads for his 13th goal and fifth game-winner.

The Avalanche, who have scored a league-leading 88 first-period goals, drove Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere to the bench at 10:39 of the first period with three goals on eight shots.

"Some nights the goaltender doesn't have his `A' game, and we had to find a way to claw back into it," Carlyle said. Tonight Giguere didn't have it - but he's saved us more than once."

Getzlaf triggered the comeback with a goal at 15:21 of the period, less than 5 minutes after Laaksonen's goal forced Carlyle to replace Giguere with Ilya Bryzgalov. Getzlaf beat Budaj high to the glove side with a one-timer from just inside the blue line while former Anaheim defenseman Kurt Sauer was off for hooking Teemu Selanne.

Bryzgalov stopped Jim Dowd on a breakaway about 3 minutes into the second period, but the Avalanche made it 4-1 less than a minute later. Blake made a perfect two-line pass to Turgeon coming out of the penalty box, and he scored on a slap shot from the top of the left circle.

Niedermayer scored with 39 seconds left during a delay-on-game penalty against Brisebois, then connected again 27 seconds into the third period after Blake failed to clear a rebound in front of the net. That goal came with 3 seconds left on Brad Richardson's holding penalty.

"This is a long hard stretch that we're in to try and get into the playoffs, so you don't want to let up for a second," Niedermayer said after his first two-goal game with Anaheim. "We were lucky that it worked out tonight and we were able to come back and win."

McDonald tied it when he finished off a slick passing play with Selanne and Chris Kunitz.

"It's huge because we came back from 4-1. It gives the whole team a lot of confidence," Hedstrom said. "Bryz played great after he came in. It was fun to be a part of it."

Turgeon's goal was the 508th of his career, moving him past legendary Montreal Canadiens captain Jean Beliveau for 31st place all-time. Turgeon was the first overall selection in the 1987 entry draft. The only No. 1 overall picks who have scored more goals since the draft was established in 1963 are Mario Lemieux (690), Guy Lafleur (560), Dale Hawerchuk (518) and Gilbert Perreault (512).

Notes: Giguere faced Colorado for the first time this season. Bryzgalov was in net for the other two meetings, both one-goal losses. ... Getzlaf's power-play goal was his eighth, breaking the Ducks' club record for rookies that Paul Kariya set in 1994-95.

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