They’ve not only navigated health issues, but now stand 17-0-5 in one-goal games, a testament to their ability to stare down pressure and develop a trait they hope will carry them to a special season.
“Good character win,” Ducks center Ryan Kesler said after unloading a game-winning shot in overtime that lifted Anaheim to a 3-2 victory over the second-place San Jose Sharks on Monday night at Honda Center.
Continuing a pattern, before Kesler scored his 12th goal of the season, center Ryan Getzlaf produced his 26th assist, a slick cross-ice delivery to defenseman Cam Fowler to tie the score with 4 minutes, 16 seconds remaining in the third period.
Takeaway No. 1: Kesler shoots and learns.
He’d sent four prior shots on goal.
“Finally, I didn’t miss my shot,” Kesler cracked.
It’s deeper than that, of course.
San Jose goalie Antti Niemi had stopped Kesler at the near post once, then the far post. Kesler decided just as a Ducks’ power play ended in OT to try the far post again.
“It came quick,” Niemi said. “I didn’t see it coming early enough.”
“Third time’s a charm,” said Kesler. “Obviously, when you score in that fashion, it’s always exciting.”
Of their last 16 victories, 14 have been by one goal.
“We’ve come down from two-three goals. Those are the teams you want to play for: the teams that never give up, the teams that never believe they’re out of it,” Kesler said.
Takeaway No. 2: The hard feelings of the 165-penalty-minutes first meeting between the Ducks and Sharks remain.
Jackman was knocked out, flat on his back. After getting up, he did not return to play and was evaluated medically. Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau did not have any new information on Jackman’s status following the game.
The NHL will likely review the incident for fine purposes.
Boudreau declined to pass judgment, saying he didn’t know what Scott was thinking.
The rivalry renews on New Year’s Eve at Honda Center.
Takeaway No. 3: Rickard Rakell takes another stride.
The center who was demoted to minor-league Norfolk earlier this month has a goal and four assists in eight games since, opening scoring Monday with a second-period goal that was his first in the regular season.
“Christmas is saved,” Rakell said.
Takeaway No. 4: Cam Fowler needs help with his goal celebrations.
After tying the score, Fowler, in his 300th NHL game, pumped his fist, them stumbled forward.
"Not one of my better moments,” he said. “Into a barrel roll, or whatever it was. Just one of those things where the excitement of the goal took over. I wasn’t trying to showboat or anything. This game meant a lot to us as a team. I was just excited that we were able to tie it up and give our team a chance.”