Better late than never.
Corey Perry scored his first goal of the season with six seconds remaining to force overtime as the Anaheim Ducks defeated the Florida Panthers 3-2 in a shootout Wednesday night at Honda Center.
Anaheim peppered Florida goalie Roberto Luongo with 39 shots, but found themselves trailing at the beginning of the third period. After a string of games where called upon to make more than 30 saves, Frederik Andersen had a lighter workload stopping 23 shots, but many of them quality scoring chances as the Ducks improved to 3-7-2 on the season.
After receiving word that captain Ryan Getzlaf has been ramping up the intensity of skating sessions following an appendectomy last week, the injury bug continued to bite Anaheim with center Rickard Rakell leaving the game in the first period after taking a high check from Alex Petrovic. No update on Rakell's status was provided after the game. The Ducks are still without the services of defenseman Simon Despres, as well as forward Jiri Sekac who was placed on injured reserve after spraining his ankle against Nashville.
Scoring opened just over five minutes in to the second period, when Hampus Lindholm turned the puck over along the near boards under pressure from a Panther forechecker. Derek MacKenzie lead an odd man rush, dropping the puck to a trailing Quinton Howden, who dummied it back to a late-arriving Rocco Grimaldi. The Orange County-born winger clipped off the skate of Cam Fowler, prone in front of the net to prevent a cutback, and fluttered past Andersen to the stick side.
Nearly three minutes later as a penalty to Nick Bjugstad was expiring Anaheim drew level, with Chris Stewart scoring his second goal in as many games. With Shawn Horcoff posted up at the top of the crease, Stewart worked the puck at the near wall to the bottom of the circle before unleashing a wicked wrist shot over the left shoulder of Luongo, ticking in off the far post to equalize.
The lead would would last until the final minutes of the period, when Erik Gudbranson's shot from the near side wing deflected off the stick of a poke check-attempting Andrew Cogliano and beat Andersen to the short side to give Florida a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
With Andersen making a couple of critical stops early in the period, momentum built thanks good shifts from the line of Chris Wagner with Patrick Maroon and Mike Santorelli. The trio were able to get to the slot and front of the net several times, only to be turned back by Luongo each time. The Panthers netminder made a spectacular save on Wagner, reaching across the goal line while lying on his left side to snack a rebound shot out of the air in the final minutes.
However in final minute with goalie pulled for an extra attacker Perry drew a high sticking penalty on Brian Campbell at the front of the net. Anaheim buzzed, before finally Ryan Kesler's shot rebounded to Perry at the far post, who buried it to break his 11-game scoreless streak and send the game to overtime.
Both goalies made fantastic stops in the five minute three-on-three overtime session, with Luongo shutting the door on Perry, and Andersen denying Brandon Pirri three times. The game went to the shootout, where Jakob Silfverberg and Stewart scored for the Ducks, while Pirri found the back of the net for the Panthers. Andersen made saves on Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau to seal the win.
Andersen was named the first star of the game, and deservingly so after facing the load of quality chances by Florida. Though the Ducks out-attempted the Panthers by a 51-35 margin at even strength, Florida had more five-on-five scoring chances at 18-14 while dominating high danger scoring chances at 12-5. In all circumstances the Panthers created 28 scoring chances while Anaheim managed 21, and the guests had more high danger chances 19-11.
The Ducks play their first of a back-to-back on Friday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Honda Center, face off is scheduled for 7 PM.