Best offense for Ducks is a good defenseman
When all seemed lost for the Ducks, Lubomir Visnovsky stepped up, stepped into a blistering shot and led them to an unlikely victory while becoming the first defenseman in club history to record a hat trick.
Visnovsky took a pass from Ryan Getzlaf during an overtime power play and ripped a long shot past Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen with 3.8 seconds left in the sudden-death period, giving the Ducks a 4-3 victory and a three-game winning streak.
In a short time the Ducks went from despair to absolute joy, still nipping at the heels of the top teams in the ridiculously congested West standings.
“We need every point right now. It’s very important for our team in this tough time,” Visnovsky said after the Ducks rose from 11th in the conference to ninth, matching eighth-place Dallas with 75 points but having played more games.
“We were down two goals and caught up. This team showed character. It showed how strong is this team and how good.
“This is very good for the next couple games. The confidence goes up for everybody.”
The Ducks trailed, 3-1, after a ragged second period but crept closer on a power-play goal by Visnovsky at 5:24 of the third period and pulled even with 63 seconds left in the third on a one-timer by Teemu Selanne with goaltender Dan Ellis pulled in favor of an extra skater. Visnovsky assisted on that, too.
“We were just playing,” said Getzlaf, who had three assists. “The second period, we were pretty disappointed in ourselves with the way we played. It all kind of trickles downhill from there. We were able to come in during the intermission and talk about our game plan and what we need to get back to doing and we were able to get back to that in the third period.”
Ellis kept the game going early in overtime with a fine glove save on Dallas’ Trevor Daley on a two-on-one. “That was huge. An unbelievable save,” Selanne said.
Visnovsky ended it with his second career hat trick, touching off a celebration from the sparse but loud crowd of 12,883 at Honda Center.
“Ducks hockey -- you never know,” Selanne said after scoring his 400th goal with the Ducks and joining Calgary’s Jarome Iginla as the only active players to have scored 400 goals with one team.
“The first two periods we were really flat emotionally and I think everybody got really mad in the third. We found a way to win the game and it was huge.”
The Ducks scored first, at 9:22 of the first period, after a scrum and minor outbreak of hostilities left the teams skating four on four. Wingers Dan Sexton and Bobby Ryan worked the puck well along the boards in Dallas’ zone before Ryan fed Visnovsky in the middle. Visnovsky unleashed a shot from about 35 feet and benefitted when Sexton crossed in front of Lehtonen and screened the goalie.
The Stars took control in the second period, scoring three straight goals. They pulled even when Jamie Benn completed a give-and-go with defenseman Alex Goligoski at 2:23, and took the lead after Adam Burish won a faceoff in his own end and finished things off at the other end by flicking a shot past Ellis at 10:35.
Dallas made it 3-1 on Loui Eriksson’s power-play deflection of a shot by Stephane Robidas, a dispiriting moment for the Ducks.
But Visnovsky cut the Stars’ lead to 3-2 at 5:24 of the third period, after Getzlaf won the puck along the boards and passed it to Selanne, who fed Visnovsky for a blast from the right side. Getzlaf set up Selanne for the tying goal, and the Ducks kept pushing.
“Lady luck was on our side,” Coach Randy Carlyle said, “but we worked for it.”
It was better Friday that Visnovsky was on their side for his hat trick, his first since Nov. 2, 2005, when he played for the Kings -- and also against Dallas.
“It’s awesome,” he said, beaming. “It was a lucky night for me.”
Go beyond the scoreboard
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