Cam Fowler threw his arms high above his head, and soon, he was being mobbed by teammates as the ice was pelted with a cascade of hats, a release of frustration for all the Ducks fans who endured a seven-game losing streak.
Seconds earlier, Adam Henrique bulldozed to the net and noticed the defenseman set up at the bottom of the right faceoff circle calling for the puck with his stick raised. Fowler planted his left knee in the ice and ripped the one-timer past Joonas Korpisalo for the goal just 36 seconds into overtime.
Fowler’s first career hat trick ended the losing streak as the Ducks defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on Sunday at Honda Center, the start of what they hope is a streak of a different sort.
“It was good feeling; it was something I’ll remember for a long time,” said Fowler, who was goalless this season entering the game.
In addition to saving the game stick and three pucks, he’ll also collect a few of those hats, too.
“It was a big win for our group to get off that losing streak,” he said. “I think we were working hard, obviously, at the start of the season but I just don’t think we were doing it the right way.
“Now we seem to be more compact and more together and it seems to be making a big difference.”
The Ducks cobbled together perhaps their most complete effort of the season before the Blue Jackets, with the extra attacker on the ice, tied the score at 2-2 with 31.3 seconds left in regulation.
Surely, it was a feeling of deja vu for the Ducks, who allowed the Philadelphia Flyers to tally the game-winner with less than two minutes remaining last week, but Fowler insists the mood was upbeat on the bench. The team was confident after putting together a solid 60 minutes of hockey, despite the lapse that forced three-on-three play.
John Gibson went to cover the loose puck following a Seth Jones point blast, and at that same moment, Fowler attempted to clear it. The mix-up allowed top-line center Pierre-Luc Dubois to bury the rebound for his second goal of the night. That meant overtime again for the Ducks, their fifth time of the season.
The Ducks won only one of those overtime contests, but this time was different. Fowler possessed the hot hand following a multi-goal effort in regulation (he registered a game-high six shots.)
The 26-year-old scored twice in the second period. First, in four-on-four play off a toe-drag feed from Rickard Rakell to tie the score at 1. Then, a little more than nine minutes later, he beat Korpisalo again, this time with a snapshot that barely sneaked under the crossbar.
The Ducks were missing Ryan Getzlaf, who was a late scratch with an upper-body injury. He’s averaging over one point per game.
Fowler picked up the slack and then some with the third hat trick by a defenseman in franchise history. It’s also just the 10th hat trick by a blue-liner in NHL history that included an overtime marker.
“He stepped up big for us tonight,” said Henrique, who collected his 300th career point on the winner. “He does it every single night back there. Sometimes I think he gets overlooked, but night in, night out, he’s one of the leaders in this dressing room.”