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Ducks pull out dramatic win over Capitals

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- Even at the end of a grueling four-game road trip, the Anaheim Ducks were still looking pretty mighty.

For the second straight game, the Ducks rallied from a two-goal deficit to pull out a dramatic 3-2 win in coach Bruce Boudreau's first game in Washington since he was fired by the Capitals in 2011.

Defenseman Hampus Lindholm completed the comeback when he snapped a shot past Capitals rookie goaltender Philipp Grubauer with 5:36 remaining in the third period. Lindholm's goal, his first in 18 games, came after Grubauer stopped Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf on the doorstep.

"The puck just bounced right to the middle and I just made a quick move so I could get it to the net," Lindholm said. "It's a huge goal and it's fun for Bruce to win against his old team."

The win extended the Ducks' win streak to nine games, sending them into the Christmas break with the NHL's best record at 27-7-5.

"In the scheme of things I'm more happy we kept the streak alive," Boudreau said. "Fifty-nine points after 39 games is a pretty cool feat for what we've gone through. The players deserve all the credit and it was nice in front of the crowd here. There was a lot of red out there."

The Capitals lost for the third time in four games to fall to 19-14-4.

The sellout crowd in Washington thought the Caps had tied it with about 3:10 remaining in the third period when right wing Alex Ovechkin snapped a shot through Anaheim defenseman Francois Beauchemin and past the outstretched glove of Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller, who finished with 17 saves.

"I saw the one replay they showed (on the scoreboard) and it looked like it was in on that one," Hiller said. "But looking at the crossbar, you can still see the mark, so I was pretty sure it wasn't a goal."

For the second straight game, the Ducks were staring down the barrel of a two-goal deficit and for the second straight game, they erased it.

The Capitals, meanwhile, coughed up a two-goal lead for the second time in three games.

"Overall, I thought we played all right," said Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom, whose ninth goal of the season gave Washington a 2-0 lead. "It's hard to say you played all right when you lose, that's for sure."

The Caps opened the scoring 7:21 into the first period on a nice passing pattern that began with right winger Eric Fehr banking the puck off the boards for center Mikhail Grabovski, who received a return pass from right winger Troy Brouwer for his 11th goal of the season, two more than he scored in 48 games for Toronto last season.

The Caps doubled their lead a little more than four minutes later when Backstrom rifled a power-play shot off the left pad of Hiller and over the goal line for his ninth goal and team-leading 42nd point.

The Ducks drew within 2-1 with 2:45 remaining in the first period when center Andrew Cogliano emerged from a scrum to backhand center Saku Koivu's errant shot past Capitals rookie goalie Philipp Grubauer, who was making his fifth start in eight games.

The Ducks had 6:34 in power-play time in the second period but couldn't cash in until Koivu scored at even strength with 26.7 seconds remaining in the period.

"The second goal at the end of the second period hurt the most," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "We were in great shape. On that goal and the third goal we made incorrect reads on the backcheck, which by now we shouldn't do."

Anaheim defenseman Ben Lovejoy did most of the work on Koivu's goal rumbling down the right wing and holding off Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov before one-handing a pass to an unguarded Koivu, who drilled home his fifth goal of the season.

NOTES: Bruce Boudreau spent parts of four seasons as Washington's head coach and led the Capitals to four Southeast Division titles. "I wouldn't mind playing them in the (Stanley Cup) Finals if that were the case," Boudreau said before the game. "I think it would be a fun environment." ... Capitals RW Alex Ovechkin is the first NHL player to score 30 goals before Christmas since Ducks RW Teemu Selanne did it in 1997. ... Ducks C Mathieu Perreault spent four years in the Capitals organization before he was traded to Anaheim on Sept. 29. He's on pace for a career-high 17 goals and 46 points. ... The Ducks closed out their four-game road trip in Washington. It was their league-high 23rd road game of the season. It also marked the last time this season the Ducks will play a game in the Eastern time zone. ... Capitals coach Adam Oates said Braden Holtby is still his No. 1 goalie, even though rookie netminder Philipp Grubauer has played in six of Washington's last eight games. ... Following their three-day Christmas break, the Capitals are back in action Friday night at home against the New York Rangers, then hit the road for games in Buffalo and Ottawa. The Ducks will play five of their next six games at home, beginning Saturday night against the Coyotes.
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