Their third-period magic made the long trip, crossed the border to Winnipeg and carried right over into overtime.
With that, the Ducks established an even tighter grip on this playoff series and pushed the Winnipeg Jets to the brink of elimination with a 5-4 win in overtime Monday night at MTS Centre in Game 3.
Jets fans waited 19 years to see a playoff game and reacted with vocal support. After three nerve-wracking periods of momentum-swinging hockey, plus overtime, they are still waiting to see a win.
The Ducks lead the Western Conference quarterfinal series, three games to none. Game 4 is here Wednesday night. Ducks forward Rickard Rakell had the winner, at 5:12 into overtime, tipping a point shot by Anaheim defenseman Francois Beauchemin past Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec.
Anaheim is the first team in NHL history to record three straight wins when trailing entering the third period in a single playoff series, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Even one of the architects, Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau, was at a loss to describe the third-period comebacks.
“It is stunning. I don't know what to say,” Boudreau said as he made the long walk to the interview room. “It happens and you just always believe it's going to happen.”
The true believers in the dressing room — his players — had more insight and the same belief.
Don't stop believing?
“No, I don't think so,” Rakell said. “We always have a good feeling and we're never going to stop, ever. We believe in our team.”
Said Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg, who scored once and added two assists: “I wouldn't say that you want to be calm. We're obviously playing with a lot of confidence. We know we can do it and we have that belief. That's the biggest thing, the confidence we have in our group that the game is never over for us.”
The plays and the goals that the Ducks could summon with poise and skill — and did so often during the regular season and the first two games of the playoffs — were there one more time. It was a hard-hitting, wildly entertaining contest as the teams combined for 105 hits, including a questionable hit from behind by Winnipeg's Dustin Byfuglien on the Ducks' Corey Perry right after Perry had scored in the second period.
The teams also combined for seven goals in the first two periods before things quieted, a bit, in the third — until Ducks center Ryan Kesler's late goal pushed it into overtime. He scored at 17:46 of the third to tie it, 4-4. Kesler found himself wide open at the base of the left circle and converted a pass that Silfverberg somehow threaded through traffic.
“I kind of saw Cogs [Andrew Cogliano] going to the net, creating some havoc,” Silfverberg said. “I saw someone backdoor and tried to get the puck over there. I'm not sure how many guys it went through.”
Said Boudreau, of Kesler: “This is when he's good. When the crowd's on him. He loves that and he comes to the fore.”
The third-period comebacks also involve flipping the keys over to Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen, so to speak. Andersen faced 35 shots, made nine saves in the third period and denied the Jets' Bryan Little with a terrific glove save with about a minute remaining in regulation.
“Freddie? He's a great goalie and we know he's shutting the door every time in the third period, that's one of the biggest keys for us coming back,” Silfverberg said. “We know he won't let in a goal in the third period.”
Said Andersen: “We all battled and worked our . . . off the whole game. It's not always going to be like this. The way we work it's going to be a lot of times where we come back and get these huge goals at the right times.”