Late, late goal gives Ducks the win over Nashville, 5-4

Say this for the Ducks: They finally figured out how to hold a lead against Nashville on Sunday.

They scored with only 1.7 seconds left.

With Ducks defenseman Paul Mara crashing the net as time ticked down, Bobby Ryan slung a bouncing puck toward him, and Mara put it behind Nashville goaltender Anders Lindback for a 5-4 win.

The victory in front of 13,520 at the Honda Center gave the Ducks a sweep of the home stand and their first three-game winning streak of the season.

It was hard to blame Lindback for sliding to Ryan's side of the net. Ryan is a young star. Mara is better known for blocking shots than taking them, and he seemingly joined the play out of nowhere.

"I saw there was eight or nine seconds left and I thought, 'Let's go for it,'" said Mara, who hadn't scored a goal since an April 22, 2009, playoff game as a New York Ranger, a 59-game drought.

The game-winner earned him first-star honors on a night when Saku Koivu scored two goals to reach 700 NHL points and Teemu Selanne had a goal and an assist.

"I can't remember the last time I was that, maybe back when I was 20 years old. It's too far back," said Mara, 31. "It's a great confidence-builder for us to win three in a row."

They did it the hard way, taking a one-goal lead four times only to lose it four times, twice in the final period.

"It was an ugly, ugly game, certainly not one we want to put in the archives, that's for sure," Ryan said.

"We've got to do a better job in front of [goalie Jonas Hiller] and we've got to do a better job of managing the puck through the neutral zone."

Ryan felt that keenly in the first period, when Patric Hornqvist intercepted his pass attempt and threaded a pass to Steve Sullivan that left him alone in front of Hiller to lift a backhand into the top of the net for a 2-2 tie.

"Oh, my God, just trying to find a place to hide on the bench at that point," Ryan said.

"I was very, very happy to give that one to 'Mars' to get us back," said Ryan, who also assisted on Selanne's goal.

Selanne has been on one of his classic streaks of late, and at age 40 is tied for fifth in the NHL in scoring with 17 points.

Koivu scored two goals to reach the 700-point mark, but couldn't help but think of Selanne.

"Whenever you hit milestones, it's something to be proud of. But when you have a 40-year-old on your right wing and he's going for, I don't know, 1,500 points and 1,500 games, that's remarkable," Koivu said. (Selanne is at 1,277 points and 1,201 games.)

It was a dispiriting loss for Nashville, which has dropped five in a row.

"To be resilient and come back, it can be disheartening," Coach Barry Trotz said. "I like the resiliency we showed, but obviously I didn't like the outcome."

Only last week, Ducks General Manager Bob Murray publicly called out the Anaheim players for their performance in a rough stretch.

"That doesn't happen too often that a GM comes out publicly," Koivu said. "You have to wake up and realize where you're going. We responded well. Maybe we didn't play as well as we wanted, but we got three wins and that's something to build on."

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