Saku Koivu’s goals do the trick for Ducks
A few weeks ago, the Ducks would have lost this game to the Dallas Stars. They had given up a two-goal lead in the third period, awakening thoughts of their many lapses during the first half of a season that has all but slipped away from them, and another loss probably would not have mattered.
After a lot of soul-searching and a threat from General Manager Bob Murray that just about everyone was available in the trade market, the Ducks woke up. On Tuesday, led by Saku Koivu’s second career hat trick, they shrugged off the Stars’ comeback and pushed forward to a 5-2 win at Honda Center, ending a dismal first half of the season with a three-game winning streak and budding confidence.
Goaltender Jeff Deslauriers, called up after injuries left Jonas Hiller and Dan Ellis unable to play, appeared in his first NHL game since April 11, 2010, a loss to the Ducks while he played for Edmonton, and stopped 26 shots. His teammates blocked 17 shots and did a good job clearing rebounds.
“They played their heart out tonight and that’s why we won,” he said.
The Ducks’ 13-22-6 record still leaves them near the bottom of the NHL pile, but they’re determined to continue chipping away.
“That’s where you can see the biggest difference at this moment,” Koivu said of the Ducks’ ability to regain the lead Tuesday after Dallas had pulled even, 2-2, on goals by Steve Ott and Alex Goligoski at 1:39 and 2:43 of the third period.
“A month, six weeks ago, them scoring those two quick goals in the third period, I think we would have been done. But now we were able to bounce back and got the third goal and then the fourth one, and those are huge goals and really brought the momentum back to our team.
“At this level it’s a lot about the mental aspect of the game.”
Koivu’s hat trick, which followed Corey Perry’s three-goal performance Sunday against Columbus, gave the Ducks hat tricks in two straight games for the first time in franchise history. Koivu has four goals and nine points in five games since returning from a strained groin.
He scored his first goal Tuesday by redirecting a shot by Toni Lydman past Kari Lehtonen at 1:30 of the first period and combined with fellow Finn Teemu Selanne on his second and third goals. After Dallas had pulled even, Selanne, playing in his 1,300th NHL game, went wide, left a drop pass for Koivu and took two defensemen with him to the net, leaving Koivu room to beat Lehtonen with a backhander at 9:32 of the third period.
Matt Beleskey padded the Ducks’ lead to 4-2 at 14:40 on his first goal this season — the rebound of a shot by Andrew Cogliano — and Koivu completed his first hat trick since Nov. 18, 2002, by sliding the puck into the empty net.
Selanne could have shot but passed to Koivu.
“I said thank you,” Koivu said, laughing. “I said, ‘You know, you have enough of those.’”
Never enough wins. Or goals. And if it occurred to the Ducks that they should have come up with more efforts like they did Tuesday, they couldn’t waste time thinking about what might have been.
“The first half didn’t go the way we expected or wanted but there’s nothing we can do with the past,” Koivu said. “And I think there’s a lot of positive things in the last little while. Even though we haven’t won all the games in the last three weeks there’s a lot of good things. ... We’re scoring goals now and were’ not allowing a lot of goals against. These are the things you try to improve and now take it on the road.”
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