ANAHEIM, Calif. – Ducks coach Randy Carlyle had no reservations about playing 19-year-old Kyle Palmieri late in the third period of his first NHL game while Anaheim trailed by a goal.
Palmieri made the move pay off when he scored the tying goal with 4:20 left in regulation.
Ryan Getzlaf then scored the winner 2:53 into overtime to lift the Ducks to a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night.
“Palmieri’s a skill player and he can find the net,” Carlyle said. “We’ve always tried to give our players an opportunity to have success. And if you have skill players, I don’t think you should sit them on the bench in situations where you need a goal.
“If it works, you’re a hero. If it doesn’t, then they question you about why you had him out there.”
Palmieri logged about 7½ minutes of ice time before beating Dan Ellis to the glove side after Bobby Ryan set him up in the slot. The five-foot-11, 193-pounder was the second of two first-round draft picks by the Ducks last year and began this season with Syracuse of the AHL.
“It was a dream come true,” Palmieri said. “Just being out there on the ice, it was an honour. It was unbelievable. I was so excited. It’s something I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little kid playing hockey back in New Jersey. I really don’t have any words right now. It hasn’t really sunk in.
“The whole play seemed like it was slow in developing. I saw the puck come across from Bobby and it squirted around to my stick. He banked it off me. I didn’t have to do much.”
Teemu Selanne, who had a goal and assist, hustled after a loose puck near the left boards just outside the blue-line, stickhandled past defenceman Mike Lundin and circled the net before backhanding a pass to Getzlaf. The Ducks captain won the game with his fifth goal.
“We had some big-time plays,” Carlyle said. “The speed Selanne showed down the left wing and then getting it back to Getzlaf, those are big-time plays and those are point-getters. And we need points.”
Selanne’s two points increased his career total to 1,274, tying Al MacInnis for 33rd place on the NHL list. The 40-year-old Selanne shows no signs of slowing down, but he plans to make his 18th NHL season his last.
“It’s amazing that the number of games he’s played and the age that he is, he seems to still have that breakaway speed—that getaway speed,” Carlyle said of Selanne, whose next game will be his 1,200th in the regular season. “When he’s around the net, he’s a very very dangerous hockey player.”
Ryan was sent off with 59 seconds left in the second period for hooking Steven Stamkos, who snapped a 1-1 tie 21 seconds into the third. Vincent Lecavalier had the puck at the right point and fed it to Martin St. Louis at the goal line to the right of the net. His pass across the crease slipped under the stick of Anaheim’s Todd Marchant, and Stamkos scored his 10th goal.
Stamkos, who leads the NHL with 20 points, has a league-best 77 goals since Feb. 17, 2009—six more than Alex Ovechkin and nine more than Sidney Crosby.
Blair Jones also scored for the Lightning. Ellis made 27 saves.
“We expected a tough game,” Stamkos said. “They’ve been struggling as of late and they were coming back home, so they wanted to come out strong—and I think they did that. It just took us too long to wake up. Our goaltender played great, made some big saves and kept us in the game.”
Anaheim opened the scoring 12:22 in on Selanne’s goal. Randy Jones was off for tripping Ryan when Selanne used Lundin as a screen and beat Ellis with a shot from the left circle that caromed in off the goalie’s right arm.
“We played against a hockey club that can really skate and is playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Carlyle said. “We’ve had our fair share of turmoil and a lack of consistency, but tonight was one of our more inspired games.”
Jonas Hiller made 32 saves for the win.
Selanne’s 612th career goal and sixth this season ended Ellis’ shutout streak at 125 minutes, 57 seconds. Ellis beat Phoenix 3-0 on Saturday and played 48 scoreless minutes in relief of Mike Smith last Wednesday against Pittsburgh.
The Lightning, held to two shots in the first period, recorded 15 in the second. They got even at 2:38 on Jones’ second goal in 40 career NHL games.
Ducks first-round draft pick Cam Fowler returned to the lineup after missing six games because of a broken nose and a stiff neck. It was Anaheim’s first game since deciding not to send the 18-year-old defenceman back to juniors.
Notes: Stamkos scored a league-high 24 power play goals last season. … The Lightning finished the first month of the season atop the Eastern Conference for the first time in their 19-year history. … Jones’ goal was his first since Feb. 6, 2007, 10 games into his NHL career. … Tampa Bay LW Simon Gagne missed his fifth straight game because of a stiff neck.