By Joe Resnick, The Associated Press
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Things weren’t looking too promising for the Anaheim Ducks until a couple of their defenceman came through with the tying and winning goals.
Cam Fowler scored at 2:42 of overtime after Francois Beauchemin provided the equalizer in the third period with his first goal of the season, and the NHL-leading Ducks rallied for a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night.
“The core group here has wanted to win ever since I got here, and they never give up,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “That’s one of the reasons why we’ve had so many come-from-behind wins the last couple of years. These guys believe that they can win, and that’s half the battle.”
Frederik Andersen faced only 14 shots altogether â€” the fewest by the Canucks this season â€” in the opener of an eight-game homestand. Corey Perry missed his 15th straight game because of a sprained knee.
Ryan Getzlaf, who assisted on both Anaheim goals, got the puck to Devante Smith-Pelly at the edge of the crease and Ryan Miller made the save as the puck deflected off the blade of his stick. But Fowler was right there to bury the rebound for his third career overtime goal.
“It was kind of a weird play,” Fowler said. “It was stuck in someone’s feet and I gave it a good whack. By the time I stood up, I saw people celebrating.”
The two-time defending Pacific Division champions are 8-0-1 in their last nine games against Vancouver. The Canucks, who were tied with the Ducks atop the Western Conference standings four weeks ago at 35 points each, are now 11 points behind them.
“We got a big point. We didn’t deserve it, but we’ll take it,” Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin said.
Boudreau singled out Andrew Cogliano’s line with right wing Jacob Silfverberg and Nate Thompson for praise after they held the Canucks’ top line of Henrik Sedin, twin brother Daniel and Radim Vrbata to just one shot on net between them.
“We don’t usually assign checking lines to teams, at least in the first half of the season,” Boudreau said. “But tonight we moved Nate with Silf and Cogs and put them against the Sedin line, and I thought they did a great job.”
Yannick Weber scored early in the second period for Vancouver and Miller made 29 saves as the Canucks lost for the sixth time in eight games.
Vancouver right wing Jannik Hansen, who lost consciousness and collapsed on the bench moments after a collision with Calgary’s Dennis Wideman on Dec. 20, was back in the lineup after sitting out a game. Defenceman Dan Hamhuis missed his 14th straight game since injuring his leg against the Ducks on Nov. 20.
The Canucks opened the scoring at 2:04 of the second. Hansen beat Fowler to a loose puck and circled the net before finding Weber way over at the right point for a 60-foot wrist shot that beat a screened Andersen to the stick side.
Beauchemin tied it with 13:08 left in regulation, using Smith-Pelly as a screen and beating Miller with a slap shot from a few feet inside the blue line after Getzlaf won a faceoff deep in the Vancouver zone.
‘We really pressed them the last period and a half, and I think it was good justice for our guys to get rewarded,” Boudreau said.
Beauchemin’s goal ended a 24-game drought by the 10-year veteran, who was playing in his second game after missing the previous 13 due to a broken finger. He also sat out five games last month because of the mumps.
NOTES: Fifteen of Anaheim’s last 17 wins have been decided by one-goal. The Ducks are 14-0 in one-goal games that are decided in regulation or overtime. They have lost three times in shootouts. … Cogliano hit two goalposts, the first one just seconds before the second intermission and the other with 2:39 left in regulation. … Andersen’s 10th victory of December set a club record for a wins in any month. … Max Friberg, a 22-year-old LW promoted by the Ducks from Norfolk of the AHL, made his NHL debut on a line with Patrick Maroon and Rickard Rakell.