Anaheim 3, Ottawa 2

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ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA (TICKER) —The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim have been waiting nearly six years for this.

Steve Rucchin snapped a tie with 5:12 remaining, giving the Ducks a 3-2 victory over the Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa Senators.

Without a home win over Ottawa since March 5, 1997, Anaheim ended a seven-game winless skid against the Senators to improve to 6-2-0-1 in its last nine games overall.

Battling with defenseman Chris Phillips at the top of the crease, Rucchin watched defenseman Niclas Havelid’s slap shot from the right point hit his skate and deflect past goaltender Patrick Lalime at 14:48 of the third for his third goal in as many games.

“I saw Nic have the puck at the point, so I went to the net to try and create some traffic,” Rucchin said. “The puck hit my skate and went in. Certainly, the goal wasn’t pretty, but it’s important to get that kind of goal in a 2-2 game. It’s tough to be scored upon in a situation like that.”

“(Havelid) shot it from the point,” Lalime said. “I had it with my stick and deflected it. (Rucchin) was going to the net, it hit his skate and went in, I guess. That’s all I saw. It was just a lucky goal. I got my stick on it and he was just riding the net, what are you going to do?”

Anaheim raised its record to 8-3-1-1 in its last 13 contests at Arrowhead Pond.

“Anytime you’re at home, you should be playing your best hockey,” Ducks captain Paul Kariya said. “The lack of travel, the familiar surroundings, getting the last matchup. Hopefully, we’ll get the crowd’s electricity back.”

Kariya and Adam Oates also scored and Jean-Sebastien Giguere turned aside 25 shots for the Ducks, whose last win over Ottawa came on March 22, 1998.

“It was our biggest game of the year because it was the one that we were in tonight,” Anaheim coach Mike Babcock said. “They’re a very good team and it was big to be able to win against one of the elite teams in the league. We want to be in the upper echelon of teams in this league.”

Mike Fisher and Todd White tallied for the Senators, who have lost two in a row and remain four points ahead of New Jersey in the East.

“Every game is important,” Ottawa coach Jacques Martin said. “I think we’ll just have to find a way to win. We lost a tough one tonight, so we have to regroup and be ready to battle tomorrow night (at Los Angeles).”

After a scoreless first period, Anaheim took the lead 4:15 into the second on Kariya’s 19th goal.

Defenseman Keith Carney pushed a diving one-handed pass to Petr Sykora from the left corner. Spotting Kariya near the blue line, Sykora quickly fed the superstar to send him in 1-on-1 against fellow All-Star Zdeno Chara.

After entering the Senators’ zone on the right side, Kariya left the Ottawa defenseman spinning in the faceoff circle before unleashing a wrist shot from the slot that zoomed by Lalime’s glove and grazed the right goalpost.

Playing his 199th NHL game, Fisher drew Ottawa even midway through the period.

Defenseman Karel Rachunek wristed a shot from the right circle that glanced off Fisher in front and past a screened Giguere at 11:59 for Fisher’s 12th tally.

Oates regained the lead for Anaheim just over two minutes later, deflecting defenseman Ruslan Salei’s shot from the left circle past Lalime at the 14-minute mark. The future Hall of Famer remains five assists from tying Gordie Howe for sixth place on the all-time list.

“You’ve got to win games like that,” Oates said. “(Ottawa’s) a good hockey team, a very good hockey team. They came back on us twice, but we wound up winning. We gave up a big lead vs. Los Angeles last week and we came back to win. Tonight, we met the challenge.”

“We expected a tough game. We played them a couple weeks ago and they played smart,” Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson said. “They got a great start when Paul Kariya makes a great play and a great shot to give them the lead. We battled back, but then Adam Oates tips one in.”

The Senators tied it again 5:55 into the third, when White took Alfredsson’s cross-slot pass and swept it between Giguere’s pads from the right circle for his 17th goal.

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