Trailing the defending Stanley Cup champions by four in the second period, the Anaheim Ducks believed they had a chance.
They were right.
Pontus Aberg scored twice in the third, including the go-ahead goal with 5:05 remaining, and the Ducks stopped Washington’s seven-game win streak with a 6-5 victory over the Capitals on Sunday.
“It’s hockey,” Aberg said. “Anything can happen.”
The Ducks trailed 5-1 before rallying for their fourth consecutive victory. Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and two assists and Rickard Rakell had a goal and an assist in the finale of a five-game trip.
“Believe me, there wasn’t anybody on that bench accepting where we were just because we’d had success previously in winning three in a row,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “That wasn’t even in their minds. They’re in the moment now, and it’s our job to keep them in that moment.”
Anaheim became the first NHL team to overcome a four-goal deficit on the road to win in regulation since Colorado accomplished the feat against Florida on March 3, 1999. It was the second time in franchise history that the Ducks overcame a four-goal deficit to win in any fashion, joining a 5-4 overtime victory against Winnipeg on March 31, 2014.
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Chandler Stephenson each had a goal and an assist for Washington, which chased John Gibson after scoring three times in the first part of the first period.
“You really can’t fault him on it,” Carlyle said of Gibson. “But they had three goals on (11) shots, and as a coach you’ve got a decision to make for the rest of your team, not him.”
It was Anaheim’s highest scoring game of the season. Ryan Miller stopped 19 of 21 shots for the win.
“I can’t remember anything like that honestly,” Miller said. “We had half the game to kind of get ourselves back, and we did it.”
Aberg’s ninth goal of the season came moments after Anaheim killed off Washington’s fifth power play, and resulted from a turnover in the neutral zone.
Kiefer Sherwood took the puck into the right corner of the Ducks’ attacking zone and tried to feed Getzlaf in front. With Caps goaltender Braden Holtby coming out of his crease, Getzlaf failed to make solid contact.
Aberg was first to the loose puck, where he easily guided it into an open goal from a few feet out.
“I just tried to be patient, not to rush it, because I didn’t want to miss that one,” he said.
Down 5-1, Andrew Cogliano and Rakell scored even-strength goals 55 seconds apart in the second period. Aberg and Hampus Lindholm then converted on back-to-back power plays 1:45 apart to tie it at 5 midway through the third.
Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson and Nic Dowd also scored for the Capitals, and John Carlson had two assists. Holtby made 19 saves.
“We got too passive I think,” Backstrom said. “When we were up 5-1 we should have been more aggressive than we were. It’s our fault.”