They’ve gotten to this point as the NHL’s points leader by effectively shelving frustration, like those two Andrew Cogliano shots that struck the iron behind Vancouver Canucks goalie Ryan Miller on Sunday night.
Building upon the faith to keep pressing in the face of a game’s setbacks, the Ducks made defensive strides to rally and defeat their Pacific Division rivals, 2-1, in overtime at Honda Center.
“We were able to keep them to the outside, and [goaltender Frederik Andersen] made all the saves he needed to,” said Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler, who fittingly scored the game-winning goal 2 minutes, 42 seconds into overtime after he and his fellow blue-liners clamped down.
The Ducks, with their top six defensemen now reunited after a months-long health battle that afflicted three, strangled the Canucks’ offense to 14 total shots.
Takeaway No. 1: They have a knack for going long.
The Ducks’ back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday both went beyond regulation, upping their season total of overtime/shootout games to 14 through 38 games.
In all of last season, Anaheim participated in just 18 such games.
The Ducks (24-8-6) are 8-6 in the post-regulation affairs.
Takeaway No. 2: It’s the most wonderful time of the year … .
For Ryan Getzlaf and Andersen.
Getzlaf, the Ducks center, leads all NHL players in both scoring (20 points) and assists (15) in December after collecting the primary assist on Francois Beauchemin’s third-period goal by winning a faceoff.
Getzlaf also had the secondary assist on Fowler’s winner, sliding a pass to Devante Smith-Pelly.
Andersen has 10 wins this month, a team record for goalie victories in any month. And he’ll likely have a chance to top it Wednesday, when the Ducks meet the visiting second-place San Jose Sharks.
Takeaway No. 3: On second thought, Dany Heatley’s status on this team looks tenuous.
I wrote in this space after Saturday’s shootout loss in Arizona that by giving Heatley a chance to take the first shootout try that perhaps Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau was giving the veteran former 50-goal scorer a chance to ignite his goal-less season.
On Sunday, however, with forwards Corey Perry, Kyle Palmieri and Tim Jackman injured, the Ducks scratched Heatley and played Max Friberg in his NHL debut after he was summoned from minor-league Norfolk.
That shootout chance might’ve been Heatley’s last chance, with Perry (sprained knee) and Jackman, pending medical clearance following a Dec. 22 blow to the head, believed to be back in the lineup soon.
Takeaway No. 4: The power play woes are troubling.
By going 0-for-4 Sunday with a man advantage, the Ducks are now tied with Dallas at 22nd in the NHL in the category –- a stunning placement given the amount of talent on the unit, even with Perry sidelined.
Assistant Coach “Brad [Lauer] is in charge of the power play, I’m not going to jump in and say, ‘Do this and do that.’ It is frustrating because I see how hard the coaches work [and] when I see the players not doing what they’re being asked to do,” Boudreau said.
“A lot of it is being too cute, trying to make the perfect play. We’ve got big bodies. We’ve just got to shoot the puck a little more.”