The most exciting ride in Orange County right now isn’t at Disneyland, not when any third period featuring the Anaheim Ducks is certain to feature chills, spills, and thrills.
The Ducks sent the capacity Honda Center crowd on another roller-coaster ride Friday night, as Corey Perry scored the winner 1:25 into overtime for a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
The victory capped an unbeaten three-game homestand in which the Ducks tied or won every game in the third period, scoring seven goals in the final 20 minutes of regulation. It gives them 29 third-period goals in their last 15 games.
After Jarome Iginla and Ryan O’Reilly scored 1:51 apart to give the Avalanche a 2-1 lead midway through the third period, Rickard Rakell responded with a wicked shot past Semyon Varlamov to tie the game with 10:56 remaining.
Perry finished it off by corralling a puck knocked out of the defensive zone by the returning Sami Vatanen and scoring his sixth career overtime goal, tying Teemu Selanne and Ryan Getzlaf for the franchise record.
Jiri Sekac opened the scoring with his first goal since being traded to the Ducks in February, adding an assist for his third career multi-point game.
Frederik Andersen stopped 38 shots for the Ducks, picking up his second win in four starts since suffering a neck injury in February.
Varlamov made 37 saves, as the Avalanche’s streak of four consecutive road wins came to an end.
For the team with a league-best 99 points, the tension was nothing new. The Ducks are 29-1-7 in games decided by one goal this season, and they also lead the NHL in comeback wins after trailing at the end of two periods.
"I don’t think there is any concern from anybody," Perry said. "We knew if we kept playing our game plan, the puck was going to go in the net, and we found a way."
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau was especially pleased at his team’s ability to match the desperation of the Avalanche, who are six points out of the final playoff berth in the Western Conference.
"I don’t know if we expect to win, but we dig down and work hard," Boudreau added. "The belief that it is possible is the thing that always gives you a chance. If you never thought it was possible, it doesn’t happen. But if you think no matter what is going on, whether you are playing good or bad, if you think that you can win and go out there are work your butt off you usually have a good chance of having success."
The Ducks’ hopes of having success in the postseason got a big boost as Vatanen returned after missing the last 15 games with an undisclosed lower-body injury. He played a team-high 22:21 and added his 35th point this season to extend his lead among Ducks defensemen.
Avalanche coach Patrick Roy was satisfied in taking a point from the Pacific Division leaders, continuing a late surge. The Avalanche have now collected points in 12 of their last 15 games.
"We played against a good team that has really high expectations," Roy said. "I think it’s a good learning process for us. Now we need to regroup for the next game."
NOTES: Centers Nathan MacKinnon (foot) and Joey Hishon (elbow) did not play. The Avalanche have lost the second-most man games to injuries in the NHL this season, trailing only the Columbus Blue Jackets. . Winger Emerson Etem and defensemen Clayton Stoner and Korbinian Holzer were healthy scratches for the Ducks. …The Avalanche will return to Colorado before resuming their five-game road trip against the Calgary Flames on Monday. …The Ducks will open a five-game East Coast swing against the Metropolitan Division-leading New York Rangers on Sunday.