As he had done most of Saturday night, Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen stopped the dark object sailing toward him.
But, in the final, strange instance, the puck dribbled past him to the left — to the net — giving the Arizona Coyotes a 2-1 shootout victory over Anaheim at Gila River Arena.
The black blade cover on Arizona forward Shane Doan’s stick broke off on contact with the puck. The blade went flying at Andersen’s chest and distracted him from the thing he intended to glove.
“The blade of the stick ended up going [my] way and the puck went the other way,” Andersen said. “Too bad you don’t get a save for saving a blade. It happened so fast. Weird goal.”
Doan’s goal was the only one scored in the four-round shootout.
“I’ve seen a lot of things in this game, and I’ve never seen that one before,” Arizona Coach Dave Tippett said. “You couldn’t do it again if you tried 1,000 times.”
Arizona goalie Devan Dubnyk made 36 saves to force the shootout, then withstood shootout tries by Dany Heatley, Jakob Silfverberg, Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf in the extra session.
Getzlaf, after assisting Rene Bourque’s first-period goal, said he struggled with his stick in the shootout to find a good grip on the puck, leading to an extended approach toward Dubnyk until the goalie ended the game by stopping a shot from his left.
“As soon as I picked it up, [the puck] rolled on its side and I spent three-quarters of the ice trying to get it to lay down,” Getzlaf said. “By then, I was in trouble.”
The Ducks (23-8-6) nevertheless salvaged a standings point and are 9-2-1 in December after they took four days off for the holiday. They even decided it was in their best interest to skip a Saturday morning skate.
“We had to weigh between, was it better to leave [Orange County] at 6 a.m getting up at 5?” for a morning skate in Arizona, or not, Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Instead, the Ducks got their normal sleep and boarded a 9 a.m. flight.
The Ducks opened scoring when Getzlaf weaved through the Coyotes’ defense and pushed a pass to Bourque, who scored his second goal in 16 games as a Duck, tumbling into the net after the puck 9:16 into the game.
Arizona, which began the night on a 4-9-3 skid, tied the score just 73 seconds later when Sam Gagner skated in front of Andersen, screening the goalie on a blue-line blast from Zbynek Michalek.
But the action took a turn toward dreadfully dull in the second, with the Coyotes controlling the puck for most of the first 10 minutes.
“You’re out of your rhythm a little bit,” Getzlaf said of the layoff effect. “You get your legs under you, but you’re still not as sharp as you’d like to be and I’m sure the quality of the game showed that. Your timing is generally off.”
Antoine Vermette and forward Mikkel Boedker failed to convert on golden rebound chances for the Coyotes (13-18-4) in the second.
The Ducks’ best late chance was a Cam Fowler pass that was tipped by a Coyotes stick just before it reached forward Emerson Etem, who was swarming toward a net opening.
“We had chances to score, but we didn’t, and they put one in on the skills competition,” Boudreau said.