WASHINGTON – Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau admitted he “was as nervous as all get out” to be facing his former team Monday night.
After the Ducks rallied to win their franchise-best ninth in a row, he appeared pretty calm.
Hampus Lindholm scored the game-winner at 14:24 of the third period and the Ducks rallied past the Washington Capitals 3-2 in Boudreau’s return to the Verizon Center.
“Nine in a row, that’s pretty cool,” Boudreau said.
Andrew Cogliano had a goal and an assist, and Saku Koivu added a goal for Anaheim. The Ducks (27-7-5) swept a four-game road trip and lead the NHL with 59 points.
“It was a goal of ours, long before we got to this game, if we could win the four games going into Christmas we thought it would a heckuva start considering 24 of those games were on the road. And we gutted out a couple of them, especially the last two,” Boudreau said
Lindholm, who added an assist, grabbed a rebound and fired through traffic from the slot for his third goal of the season.
Boudreau replaced Glen Hanlon as Washington’s coach 21 games into the 2007-08 season and guided the Capitals to four straight Southeast Division titles, including a Presidents’ Trophy in 2009-10 when they compiled 121 points.
He was fired after a 12-9-1 start on Nov. 28, 2011, and was hired by Anaheim two days later, replacing Randy Carlyle.
“I don’t think I made eye contact with one (Washington) player all night long, because I couldn’t,” Boudreau said, afraid of how he’d react to a look from one of his former players.
Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller had 16 saves.
Mikhail Grabovski and Nicklas Backstrom scored for Washington.
A shot by Alex Ovechkin hit the crossbar and landed just outside the line with about three minutes left. It was reviewed and ruled no goal.
“I saw the one replay they showed, and it looked like it was a goal on that one,” Hiller said, “but at the same time, looking at the crossbar, you can still see the mark kind of on the outside of the crossbar, so I was pretty sure it wasn’t a goal.”
Washington’s Troy Brouwer added two assists and Philipp Grubauer made 26 saves.
The Ducks rallied to win from a two-goal deficit for the second game in row.
“I think it just seems, for whatever reason, when we’re down by a goal or two right now, then we change to our style,” Koivu said. “We start getting pucks deep and we get the forecheck going, which has been effective, and it’s been paying off.”
Washington, meanwhile, wasted a two-goal lead for the second game in row.
“It was just a couple of mistakes that cost us the win,” Backstrom said. “Overall, I thought we played all right. But it’s hard to say you played all right when you lose.”
The Capitals managed just eight shots on goal in the final two periods.
“I think the second period everybody lost their flow with the penalties,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “I thought we pushed pretty hard. They’ve got some good guys back there; they made some plays. We tried, but we just couldn’t penetrate.”
Trailing 2-1 to start the second period, the Ducks failed on three power plays, but got the equalizer with 27 seconds left. Ben Lovejoy carried into the zone and, as he was circling behind the net, shovelled the puck in front to Koivu, who banged it in.
“The second goal at the end of the second I think hurt the most,” Oates said. “We’re in great shaped, we’re down behind their goal line, and they get one rush and put it in the net.”
The Capitals broke on top at 7:21 of the first period. Grabovski fed Brouwer on a two-on-one, and Brouwer sent the puck back to Grabovski, who deflected it past Hiller for his 11th goal.
Just over four minutes later, Backstrom (15 points in his last seven games) picked up his ninth goal when his shot bounced off the right post and fell in behind Hiller 11 seconds into a Washington power play.
Anaheim pulled to 2-1 at 17:15 when, during a scramble in front of the net, Cogliano picked up his 10th goal when he backhanded a shot in off Grubauer.
NOTES: The last NHL team to win nine in a row was Pittsburgh, which won 15 straight from March 2-30, 2013. … Capitals F Brooks Laich returned to the lineup after missing 11 games with a lower body injury. … Grabovski has 10 points in his last 10 games. … The Ducks are off until Saturday, when they host Phoenix. The Capitals resume play Friday when they host the Rangers.