If Corey Perry hadn't brought the Ducks even with the Boston Bruins with 38.5 seconds left in the third period and goaltender Frederik Andersen gone in favor of an extra skater, and if Ryan Getzlaf hadn't set a franchise career record by scoring his seventh regular-season overtime goal to propel them to a 3-2 victory Thursday at TD Garden, the Ducks would have accepted defeat.
After two loose, unfocused losses, they discussed the urgency of turning things around but seemed to talk a better game than they played. They considered it a distinct improvement that they conceded only two power-play goals to the Bruins after yielding 12 goals to the New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets to start this trip.
"No matter what happened in the game, I felt good about the way we played," said Getzlaf, who took a pass from Cam Fowler and shot from the high slot because he didn't see linemate Perry, a decision vindicated when the puck eluded Tuukka Rask three minutes and nine seconds into sudden-death play.
"We played a good hockey team over there, and we battled right to the end, and getting the two at the end is just a reward for that. It's a process, and we want to just keep getting better, and I felt we did that tonight."
To do that and recapture the West lead with 101 points — the fourth 100-point season in club history — was almost more than they expected. It was more than Bruins Coach Claude Julien felt they deserved: He said there was "no doubt goalie interference" when Perry went to the net on the tying goal, and Rask said "somebody took my legs out."
But the proposed coach's challenge isn't a rule, and goaltender interference isn't a reviewable situation. In the end, the Bruins extended their winless streak to 0-3-3 and remained outside the East playoff picture, while the Ducks gained confidence in their ability to clamp down defensively.
"That's our style of game," said Perry, who added he didn't see what happened on his supposed transgression and saw the puck enter the net only after he used the bottom of his stick blade to redirect a long shot by Getzlaf. "We keep it out of the house, we keep it to the outside, we're going to be all right. They scored two power-play goals, and it could have been anybody's game, but it was a great comeback."
The Ducks took a 1-0 lead at 10:18 of the second period after Patrick Maroon made a neat move around defenseman Matt Bartkowski and beat Rask with a high shot. The Bruins tied it at 13:07, with Simon Despres in the penalty box, when Ryan Spooner pivoted and rifled a shot to the far side. They took a 2-1 lead, again with Despres in the box, — when Loui Eriksson converted the rebound of a shot by Torey Krug 27 seconds into the third period.
The Ducks could have settled for a close loss but instead extended their league-leading record in one-goal games to 30-1-7. Afterward, they gave Perry the fireman's hat, awarded to the player of the game. He earned a graceful if unofficial assist by giving the hat to 14-year-old Shaelin Earle of nearby Beverly, Mass., a loyal Ducks fan and Make A Wish visitor. "He's tremendous. He's a great kid," Perry said. "I think he had the time of his life."
All in all, it was a win-win situation for the Ducks on a night victory was anything but certain for them.
"I hope it was meaningful," Coach Bruce Boudreau said of his players keeping their vow to improve defensively. "It again proves that when they put their mind to it and they're totally focused for 60 minutes, they can play pretty well."