ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Anaheim Ducks sure are playing it close these days.
All-star Corey Perry scored at 2:14 of overtime to help them beat the last-place Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Wednesday night for their second straight victory. It was the third time in three games that the Ducks went to overtime or a shootout.
“It’s a tell-tale sign of a team that won’t quit, and a tell-tale sign of a team that wants to win,” said Bruce Boudreau, who is 14-11-4 since taking over as Ducks coach on Nov. 29.
Anaheim has closed within eight points of a playoff spot after being 20 points out on Jan. 6. The Ducks are 11-3-2 since New Year’s Day, the NHL’s third-best record, and one point behind league leaders Nashville and Detroit.
“This team has never stopped believing in itself,” Boudreau said. “And until that last bell rings, when they’re eliminated or whether they’re in, they’re going to keep going.”
Jonas Hiller made 31 saves to earn his second consecutive win for the Ducks, who have won eight of 11 and closed out a four-game homestand having outscored opponents 34-21. They are averaging 3.13 goals in 16 games since Jan. 1, tied with Toronto for third-highest in the league.
“It was a huge win,” Perry said. “You look at where we are in the standings and what we’ve done in the last month, and every point counts for us. It doesn’t matter who it’s against. We needed it because we didn’t want to go on the road trip on a losing note.”
Perry tripped Jussi Jokinen as the Hurricanes left-wing was taking the puck from behind the net. Carolina coach Kirk Muller began yelling from the bench, believing Perry should have been called for a penalty. But there was no whistle, and Sheldon Brookbank made a cross-ice pass to Perry, who fired the puck in from the left circle.
“They didn’t blow the whistle, so you keep playing,” Perry said. “I found Brookbank, and he made a great play back to me. We’ve had bad calls against us all year, and maybe this was a turning point for us. We’ll see.”
Muller said, “I was told that he hit the net. I watched the replay, so you guys can watch the replay and decide what you see.”
The Hurricanes, the Eastern Conference’s worst team, blew two one-goal leads in having their two-game winning streak ended. Cam Ward lost for the first time in four career appearances against Anaheim. He stopped 31 shots.
“It’s just unfortunate there in overtime to have a call like that go against us and end up costing us another point,” Carolina captain Eric Staal said. “Our compete level was there, we were on pucks, we were aggressive, we were attacking. Wardo was good when he needed to be.”
Anaheim tied the game for the second time just 1:24 after the Hurricanes took a 2-1 lead in the third. Luca Sbisa’s slap shot near the blue line got tipped by Matt Beleskey before Saku Koivu scored off the rebound at 5:11.
“We’ve done a fairly good job the last five weeks, and now we’re got really a tremendous opportunity to make something big happen,” Koivu said.
Carolina struck first again in the final period with Staal scoring inside the left post at 3:47. Brookbank had the puck behind the net and tried to pass it back, but Staal intercepted it. He centred it, and the puck hit Rod Pelley’s right skate and sailed back to Staal for his 13th goal.
The Ducks’ Nick Bonino redirected a slap shot from the right point by Lubomir Visnovsky past Ward, tying the game 1-1 at 12:48 of the second.
The Hurricanes led 1-0 in the first when Tuomo Ruutu batted the puck in mid-air into the net at 17:57.
Notes: It was Perry’s third career OT goal, and his first since March 20 of last season against Calgary. … Staal has 19 points in 17 games. His 39 points lead the team. … The Ducks open an eight-game road trip Friday at Western Conference-leading Detroit. They don’t return home until Feb. 26 against Chicago.