ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Anaheim Ducks found a way to bounce back – literally.
Saku Koivu blocked a pass from Bruno Gervais that bounced off his stick and helmet, and turned the carom into a breakaway goal 14 seconds into overtime as the Ducks rallied from a two-goal, third-period deficit to beat the New York Islanders 5-4 on Friday night.
“I was lucky that it hit my shaft, and then my helmet, and I was lucky enough to get that breakaway,” Koivu said.
It was the third straight win for the Ducks after five losses following the Olympic break.
Lubomir Visnovsky scored two goals, including one to tie it with 32 seconds left in regulation, as the Ducks erased a 4-2 deficit over the final 10:07.
Koivu said that with Teemu Selanne defending the centre of the ice, Gervais “had nowhere else to go but to push the puck on the board side.”
Islanders coach Scott Gordon was not willing to dismiss the play as a simple matter of good fortune for the Ducks.
“It was a play that shouldn’t have been made,” Gordon said. “We had another option. Bad break or not, it wasn’t a play that had to be made.”
The Islanders led 4-2 after John Taveras’ goal with 5:29 left in the second period. Anaheim cut it to 4-3 with 9:53 left in the third, scoring on the power play as Jason Blake deflected in a shot by Steve Eminger.
The Ducks tied it when Selanne fed Visnovsky for a blast from near the blue line after pulling Curtis McElhinney
“I thought they were going to clear it,” Selanne said, “but I got it back and just passed it. And he’s got a laser, that guy. It’s unreal how he’s shooting the puck.”
Visnovsky has 15 goals, second among NHL defencemen. It was his first two-goal game since Dec. 29, 2006, when he played for Los Angeles.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Islanders, who are six points out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 11 games remaining.
“We’re a little overmatched physically against a big team,” Gordon said. “It took a couple seeing-eye shots to beat us. … For the most part, we defended well. We were in the right places, but two shots made the different in them being able to tie it up.”
Kyle Okposo snapped a 2-2 tie for New York at 2:42 of the second period, 7 seconds into the night’s first power play, when his shot from the left side trickled through the pads of Jonas Hiller. That prompted Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle to replace Hiller, who stopped 14 of 17 shots, with McElhinney.
“I just didn’t think that Jonas was handling the puck,” Carlyle said. “The puck seemed to be coming off him right back to the front of the net. … I thought the bright spot was that Curtis McElhinney came in and shut the door. He let one goal in, but it was a power-play goal where we should have had better coverage.”
That goal, a backhander from the slot through traffic, the third goal in two games for Taveras. He followed a five-point night in Tuesday’s 5-2 win at Vancouver with two points Friday.
McElhinney made 13 saves in his second appearance with Anaheim since arriving in a trade with Calgary on March 3.
The Islanders took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period on a goal by Richard Park. Anaheim answered with goals from Matt Belesky and Visnovsky, but the period ended in a 2-2 tie when Okposo circled the net and attempted to pass to Sean Bergenheim, only to have the puck carom in off the skate of Visnovsky.
Selanne remained one goal shy of 600 for his career, two games after scoring his 599th against San Jose. He’s looking to become the 18th NHL player, and the third from Europe, to reach the 600-goal mark. He failed to score on six shots.
“He had lots of chances,” said Carlyle, who thought his players were trying too hard to set Selanne up for the milestone. “We had a little discussion on the bench that there’s so many games left, it’s not an issue. He’s going to get it.”
NOTES: It was Anaheim’s first game since defenceman James Wisniewski received an eight-game suspension for a hit to the head of Chicago’s Brent Seabrook on Wednesday. Eminger filled Wisniewski’s spot in the lineup. … Ryan Getzlaf returned for Anaheim after missing one game with an ankle injury. … Okposo was back for the Islanders after missing the game in Vancouver with an undisclosed injury. … The Islanders last played in Anaheim on Oct. 11, 2006, when they won 5-4 in a shootout.