ANAHEIM, Calif. – A sloppy third period by Anaheim’s defence and a couple of costly penalties by the NHL’s most penalized team enabled Anthony Stewart to rally the Atlanta Thrashers to an improbable road victory.
Stewart scored his first three goals of the season, completing his first career hat trick with a tying power-play goal that was upheld by video replay late in the third period, and the Thrashers beat the Ducks 5-4 in a shootout Friday night.
“It feels great,” Stewart said. “I can’t shut it down right now. I’m happy to contribute any way I can and I am still trying to prove myself in this league. So any way I can contribute is great.”
Stewart, who had only four goals in 105 games entering this season, tied it with 5:22 left in regulation while Corey Perry was off for slashing Alexander Burmistrov. Atlanta’s Rich Peverley tried to bat a fluttering puck into the net with a high stick and grazed it, then Stewart’s stick also hit the puck before it went in.
“Corey Perry’s penalty was an unacceptable penalty at a critical time,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “But from the replay that I saw on the Jumbotron, it looked like the first guy high-sticked the puck on the goal. Usually if the guy does touch the pick with a high stick and the next player to touch it is a (teammate), then the play’s dead. But I guess the interpretation was that the first guy that swung at the puck didn’t hit it. So we’ll have to get a clarification on that.”
Two of Stewart’s goals came with the man advantage. He had a chance to win it in the final seconds of regulation, but the puck slid off his stick at the end of a breakaway and Jonas Hiller was able to stop it with his right leg. Hiller stopped Atlanta’s first three shots of the shootout before Nigel Dawes beat him to the glove side to end it.
“We have a lot of veteran leadership, and we’ve got that never say die attitude out there,” Stewart said.
Chris Mason made 37 saves for the Thrashers and turned aside all four Anaheim shots in the tiebreaker. Atlanta was 1 for 14 on the power play through its first three games.
“They are a very courageous group,” first-year coach Craig Ramsay said. “We were down four to Tampa and almost got it all the way back. We don’t want to keep doing that, but we have a committed group that really wants to win. They want to do what they are asked to do. We’re busy and we’re fun. I don’t want to coach a boring team—and I certainly am not.”
Teemu Selanne had a power-play goal and added two assists for Anaheim. Corey Perry also had a power-play goal and two assists for the Ducks, who are off to a 1-4 start after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Captain Ryan Getzlaf had a power-play goal and an assist, and Hiller made 29 saves.
Selanne put Anaheim ahead 3-2 with 52 seconds left in the second period, banging home a short pass from behind the net by Saku Koivu while Nik Antropov was off for hooking Getzlaf. The goal was Selanne’s 608th, tying Dino Ciccarelli for 16th place on the career list.
Getzlaf made it 4-2 with Anaheim’s third power-play goal, beating Mason from short range with 13:25 remaining. The goal turned out to be significant, because Stewart connected on another power play with 9:35 left in the game.
“Anytime you lose in your own building it’s disappointing, especially when you’ve got the lead going into the third,” Getzlaf said. “We worked pretty hard all game long, but we made a few mental errors, gave up two goals and didn’t get a big penalty kill at the end.”
The Ducks didn’t get their first minor penalty until defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky was sent off for tripping Evander Kane at 12:19 of the second period. The Thrashers capitalized on the ensuing power play.
Chris Thorburn parked himself in front of the net and redirected Dustin Byfuglien’s slapshot over Hiller’s glove, tying it at 2.
Toni Lydman gave Anaheim a 2-1 lead at 9:43 of the second, converting a rebound after Mason stopped Selanne’s shot.
Stewart opened the scoring just 17 seconds after the opening faceoff, beating Hiller with a 40-foot slapshot. The Ducks tied it at 8:43 when Visnovsky got a cross-ice pass from Getzlaf and took a slapshot from the top of the left circle than deflected in off Perry’s skate.
NOTES: Selanne is one of only five players remaining from the Ducks’ 2007 Stanley Cup championship squad, along with Perry, Getzlaf, C Todd Marchant and RW George Parros. … Selanne has nine goals in 11 games against the Thrashers.