The puck slipped away from Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy, but he had the presence, savvy and, well, luck to get it back and go around the Red Wings’ Gustav Nyquist and Brian Lashoff and set up teammate Nick Bonino for the overtime game-winner.
Lost and found.
All this unfolded in a matter of seconds, and with the goal the Ducks find themselves one game away from advancing out of the Western Conference quarterfinals. The Ducks’ 3-2 overtime victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night at Honda Center in Game 5 gave them a 3-2 edge in this series.
“It’s what you dream of as a kid,” said Bonino, whose goal came 1 minute 54 seconds into overtime. “I didn’t have to do much, Lovejoy got it across to me. We’d like to finish it in six. They’ll be desperate — that’ll be a desperate fan base.”
Said Lovejoy: “There was a puck going down the wall, it was bouncing a bit. I really wanted to shoot it, but couldn’t control it. I was able to get a little toe-drag in and able to hit Nick back door.”
It was Anaheim’s first win in three overtime games against Detroit. The Red Wings won in overtime in Game 2 here and Game 4 in Detroit.
The Game 6 that Bonino was talking about will be in Detroit on Friday, and a win in this series would represent the second playoff series the Ducks have won since capturing the Stanley Cup in 2007.
“Mentally, that was a huge win for us,” Lovejoy said. “We’ve struggled in this series in overtime against that team. I wouldn’t say — actually, I would say — they’ve had our number in overtime. Our ultimate goal is to beat this team in this series and win the Stanley Cup and you’re not going to do that if you can’t win overtime games.”
A series win also could represent another tantalizing possibility: the potential of a playoff series against the rival Kings, who are also one game away from winning their first-round series, against the St. Louis Blues.
Several things have to occur for that to happen, of course.
And it has been difficult for the Ducks, and Red Wings for that matter, to build on their victories. Don’t try to think, let alone anticipate, what will happen next in this curiously pattern-free series.
Even the first three periods were all over the map. The Red Wings were outshot 14-3 to start the game, but righted themselves to take the lead twice before the Ducks fought back to tie it.
Anaheim’s defense turned into a clinic on what not to do in the second period before stabilizing in the third.
And who would have thought that former league most valuable player Corey Perry would go through five games of this series with just one assist? There was no shortage of effort from Perry. His last shot in regulation almost prevented the game from going into overtime. His scoring chance came with 9.7 seconds remaining as he cut from the left side to the middle, attempting to catch Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard moving the wrong way.
Howard, however, stayed with it and coolly made the save.
In regulation, the Ducks goals came from Kyle Palmieri, at 17:41 in the first period, and Ryan Getzlaf, up the middle, at 19:28 of the second. Palmieri’s goal managed to get through a sea of legs, and past Howard, after center David Steckel won the draw.
About the only thing the Ducks have been able to count on is the consistent reliability of their captain, Getzlaf. “He’s a great leader and when he’s going he’s a tough man to stop,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said.
The Ducks survived a scrambled, turnover-riddled middle session, trading goals with the Red Wings. Detroit went up 2-1 when goalie Jonas Hiller gave up a big rebound to a waiting Mikael Samuelsson, who scored from the base of the circle.
What could have been a blow turned into a momentum booster once the Ducks used their survival skills in fending off the Red Wings on a five-minute major late in the second period.
Daniel Winnik received the major for boarding Red Wings forward Daniel Cleary, who went down hard in the corner and stayed down for some time. Cleary immediately went to the dressing room for evaluation but returned for the start of the third period.