COLUMBUS, Ohio – Dan Sexton’s excellent adventure continued and the Anaheim Ducks didn’t let another game slip away late.
Sexton, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry scored goals, and Jonas Hiller stopped 35 shots to power the Ducks past the Columbus Blue Jackets, 3-1 on Saturday night.
Sexton, a member of the AHL’s Manitoba Moose just a few days ago, scored his fourth goal in his fifth NHL game since being called up Dec. 4.
“If you would have told me by the end of the weekend I would have accomplished what I have … I’d have a pretty hard time believing it,” said Sexton, an undrafted free agent who played college hockey just a couple of hours away at Bowling Green.
“I just wanted to come in and play my hardest and contribute. But, to get some good bounces and play with some great players, contribute the way I have, it has been a special week for sure.”
On Friday night, Anaheim blew a two-goal lead in the third period of an overtime loss at Detroit. Not this time.
“We tried to take on the attitude that we were going to build off of last night’s third period,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “We couldn’t let that type of thing happen to our hockey club tonight.”
It was Hiller’s first win since Nov. 19 and ended a personal three-game losing skid.
Ryan had an assist to go with his goal, and Ryan Whitney added two helpers.
R.J. Umberger had the lone goal for the Blue Jackets, who had won both earlier meetings with Anaheim this season but have lost 10 of their last 12 overall. They got more bad news during the game when forward Derek Dorsett broke his hand in a fight with Mike Brown.
The Ducks, who came in having lost six of seven, weathered almost a minute with a two-man disadvantage while holding a one-goal lead early in the third period.
“That’s the turning point of the hockey game,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We’ve scored on them all year and I don’t even know that we got a quality look. We stumbled around. We had shots blocked and cross-ice passes picked off.”
Perry scored the clincher while the Ducks where hanging on to a 2-1 lead. With 6:13 left and Anaheim on the power play, Whitney backhanded a perfect setup to Perry in the high slot who one-timed it in for this 16th goal of the season.
“(Killing) that 5-on-3 was huge for us,” Perry said. “If we killed that off, we were in a great situation. Then we get the power play right after that, get the goal. It was a great pass from Whit. I just got enough wood on it.”
The teams traded goals in the final minute of the second period.
First, Ryan made it 2-0 with a spectacular, highlight-reel goal.
He took a long pass from Sheldon Brookbank at the blue line and then skated around defenceman Kris Russell while barrelling toward the goal. Ryan was tripped by Russell’s stick as he bore down on Mason. While flying horizontal to the ice, he flicked the puck into the net.
It was Ryan’s 50th career goal and 14th of the season.
Less than 20 seconds later, Columbus cut the lead in half when Umberger collected the puck behind the goal line, moved it to his forehand, and threw it on net. It hit Hiller’s left skate and went into the net.
One of Hiller’s biggest saves came when he stymied Raffi Torres’ backhander off a rebound midway through the third.
“We had a great chance last night to win the game but we gave it away in the third,” said Hiller, who watched Jean-Sebastien Giguere in goal against the Red Wings. “We were able to keep going in the third (tonight) and didn’t get any goals against. That was huge. Also, for the confidence of the team.”
The Ducks came in winless (0-2-2) in the second games of back-to-backs this season.
“Playing back-to-back games on the road is life in the NHL,” Carlyle said. “We’re not really proud of our road record (3-5-5) yet. Those things are all things that you use to motivate people. In the end the players laid it on the line. Was it a perfect road game? No. But we did what we had to do to win the hockey game.”
NOTES: Earlier in the day, Columbus activated LW Fredrik Modin off the injured list and assigned C Derek MacKenzie to the club’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse. … Brown played in his 99th career NHL game for the Ducks.