It was the Kyle Palmieri show in the early going.
The New Jersey Devils forward tormented his former squad with two goals in the game’s first 11 minutes, bringing his season total to 16. The Ducks could sure use him now. Their 30th-ranked offense features only one player with double-digit goals: Pontus Aberg.
Palmieri was sent packing to New Jersey by general manager Bob Murray in 2015, and he’s eclipsed the 20-goal plateau in each of his three seasons since. Luckily, the Ducks didn’t need their own offense to grab the victory Sunday. The Devils did most of the work for them.
A head-scratching three own-goals committed by New Jersey allowed the Ducks to erase one-goal deficits on three occasions in a 6-5 shootout victory at Honda Center.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf laughed when asked if he ever witnessed such a thing in his 14 years playing in the NHL. Of course, he hadn’t.
“Our guys did a good job sticking with things,” said Getzlaf. His shootout goal in Round 3, coupled with Daniel Sprong’s earlier success, denied the Devils another opportunity.
“When you get a few of those bounces, it’s big. We didn’t get any in the first two months of the season. It’s nice to get a couple tonight.”
Aberg couldn’t believe it, either. He tied the score in the third period with the help of another former Ducks player. The Swede pitch-forked the puck into the zone, and it collided with Ben Lovejoy’s glove before it caromed into the net.
“I don’t think I’ve ever scored with someone else putting it in for me, but it counts,” said Aberg, a revelation for the Ducks this season after being scooped off the waiver wire.
“I mean, I’ll take it. I felt pressure coming down so I just tried to put it toward the net, and he did the rest for me.”
Incredibly, that wasn’t even the only such mistake by the Devils in the third period. Minutes after that error, Devils blue-liner Andy Greene batted a puck past Cory Schneider to push the Ducks ahead 5-4.
The Ducks also grabbed the lead in the first period following a costly miscalculation by their opponents. And yes, it was another ex-Ducks player who was at fault. Stefan Noesen attempted to deny Kiefer Sherwood’s pass to Carter Rowney, and he succeeded. Just one problem: he pushed the puck into his own net.
Even with all the help the Devils afforded the Ducks, Anaheim needed to scratch and claw its way to two points.
With the extra attacker on the ice, Marcus Johansson fired a puck past John Gibson with 58 seconds left in the contest. Gibson was enjoying a rare night off until his backup, Ryan Miller, exited in the third period with an injury. Miller was limping after the game.
“It was a bizarre game,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “It was one of those games that seemed like the last shot would win it. The positive for us is we were down going into the third, and we found a way to get back.”