Ducks extend winning streak to 10

Dennis Bernstein, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- If the Anaheim Ducks keep rolling in historic fashion, they might have to change their name back to the Mighty Ducks.
Despite blowing a late two-goal, third period lead, they used the heroics by a trusted veteran to end the evening with the best record in the NHL.
Center Saku Koivu had two goals -- including the overtime winner -- and an assist and winger Daniel Winnik had two assists as the Ducks defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 on Saturday night.
The victory was a franchise-record 10th straight for the Pacific Division-leading Ducks (28-7-5), who extended their home record to 14-0-2. They are the only NHL team to remain undefeated in regulation this season.
Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller tied a franchise record by winning his eighth straight game, stopping 23 Phoenix shots, to equal the record set last season by backup goaltender Viktor Fasth.
Despite Hiller's addition to the Anaheim record book, the night belonged to Koivu, who is playing in his 18th NHL season. His winner was his seventh goal of the season and came off a deflection from a shot by defenseman Ben Lovejoy 51 seconds into overtime. Montreal defenseman Cam Fowler received the second assist.
"More than anything, it was luck," Koivu said. "We try to forget what happened at the end of regulation. You try to regroup as quick as you can."
The victory gave the Ducks 61 points after 40 games. And with the Chicago Blackhawks losing in a shootout to the St. Louis Blues, Anaheim is first overall in the NHL standings by virtue of its 26 regulation and overtime wins.
Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau is embracing his team's run through the Anaheim franchise record books and said his team should be proud of the accomplishment.
"When you get to the number 10, it becomes something special and I'm proud to be a part of it," Boudreau said. "I think it's a motivating factor for the team, and when my teams hit double figure winning streaks at other levels, they won championships."
Phoenix goaltender Thomas Griess was the major reason the Coyotes earned a point. After losing the first three games of the season series to the Ducks, Griess' 38 save performance put his team in position to win the game despite being outplayed for 55 minutes.
"I thought he was excellent, made some big saves for us," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "He made some key saves at the right time to allow us to get a point."
The Coyotes took advantage of a gratuitous bounce get within a goal late in the third period. When defenseman Michael Stone tried to shoot the puck behind the Anaheim net, it took a bad bounce off the side boards to center Martin Hanzal in the slot. With Hiller waiting to retrieve the puck behind his own goal, Hanzal had an open net to score his 11th goal of the season with 4:34 remaining in the third period.
Phoenix tied it with 43.8 seconds left in regulation with Griess pulled for an extra skater. Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle took a shot from the point that was deflected by center Mike Ribeiro for his 10th goal of the season.
Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson also assisted on the equalizer. The goal originally was credited to Yandle but changed by the official scorer after the game.
Anaheim got on the board first despite being a man short. With winger Jakob Silvferberg off for high sticking, Koivu ripped a shot past Griess at 17:08 of the first period. Winnik and defenseman Francois Beauchemin were credited with assists.
Though Phoenix picked up a point, it must start putting wins together if it is to stay among the top eight in the NHL's Western Division. They have only one win since mid-December, and with the Dallas Stars heating up, they might be pressed to keep a playoff berth if they don't produce during an upcoming homestand.
"You don't want to be chasing the game. It shows we don't give up," Yandle said. "But trying to get that extra point, we've got to be focused on that."
NOTES: Phoenix D David Rundblad, LW Paul Bissonnette and RW Jordan Szwarz did not play. ... Two Coyotes played milestone games. RW David Moss appeared in his 400th NHL game and C Kyle Chipchura played in his 300th. ... Phoenix opens its longest homestand of the season on New Year's Eve against Edmonton. The Coyotes will play six at home through Jan. 11. ... Anaheim scratched RW Tim Jackman, LW Kyle Palmieri and D Mark Fistric. Palmieri was a healthy scratch despite scoring two winning goals on the Ducks' recent four-game road trip. ... Ducks RW Corey Perry is off to the best start of his career with 22 goals in 39 games, eclipsing the 20 he had in the 2007-08 season. ... Anaheim C Saku Koivu producedhis 250th career goal with his first-period, short-handed score.

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