ANAHEIM, Calif. -- As the wins keep piling up for the Anaheim Ducks, the belief grows that their fast start is starting to resemble something out of their past. Despite missing key starters due to injury and illness, they beat one of their main Pacific Division rivals in a grinding affair that had the tone and intensity of a playoff game.
Right winger Corey Perry had a goal and an assist, and rookie goaltender Frederik Andersen stopped 35 shots as the Ducks beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 Sunday.
Andersen, a rookie drafted in the third round by Anaheim in the 2012 Entry Draft, is the first goalie to win his first six NHL games since Toronto's Damian Rhodes did so from March 22, 1991 through Dec. 2, 1993. His start was a game-time decision for Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau when starting goalie Jonas Hiller informed him that he was ill due to the flu.
"We knew (center Ryan) Getzlaf was going to be out tonight but just prior to the game, Hiller told me he wasn't feeling that well. At that point, I decided to go with Andersen," revealed Boudreau about the late lineup changes.
Though he's setting records, the Anaheim rookie backstop's short-term future is uncertain. With regular backup Viktor Fasth scheduled to travel with the team on its upcoming road trip, it's possible that Andersen could return to the Ducks AHL affiliate if Fasth is activated from the injured reserve list.
The Ducks remain atop the NHL standings with a 15-3-1 record, and they extended their home mark to 8-0-0. Anaheim won without leading scorer Getzlaf, as the center was scratched just prior to the opening faceoff due to an upper-body injury.
Though outshot 29-16 through two periods, the Ducks took a 2-1 lead in the last minute of the second. Center Nick Bonino finished an odd-man rush at 19:09 off a feed from right winger Emerson Etem for his fifth of the season.
Center Andrew Cogliano added an empty-net goal at 19:39 of the final period to complete the scoring.
"This team is starting to remind me of our 2006-'07 Stanley Cup winner. We have a lot of younger players but there are also veterans in the room that know what it takes to win a championship. It's all about hard work," noted Perry.
Vancouver was the better team over the game's first half despite playing the previous night in Los Angeles. Still, Anaheim was first to break through on Perry's 11th goal of the season at 8:30 of the middle frame.
The goal was a strange one. After defenseman Francois Beauchemin's shot from the point hit Vancouver defenseman Jason Garrison on the skate, the puck ricocheted off Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack's shoulder. Perry then headed the puck to the ice and tapped it in before it crossed the goal line.
The Ducks struggled to find any consistent offensive flow in the opening period, managing only five shots on goal at Lack. Their lone power-play opportunity yielded one shot and brought into focus Getzlaf's absence. The Canucks were the busier team in the first, but none of their 13 shots made it past Andersen.
The Canucks knotted the game at 14:09 of the second period when enforcer Tom Sestito scored his first goal of the season. Vancouver's third line forced a turnover deep in the Anaheim zone, and center Brad Richardson's cross-ice pass found Sesito, who beat Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa to the left of Andersen.
"There were a lot of things I liked tonight but we made a bonehead play and that made the game 2 to 1. We got nothing from our top guys tonight; that won't happen often," admitted Canucks head man John Tortorella.
Lack stopped 20 shots for Vancouver (11-7-2). The Canucks entered the weekend with the NHL's best road record but lost on back-to-back nights in Southern California.
"It is a tough division, but we have showed that we can play with the best. I don't think we came up with the standard where we want to be in the last two games but we are still in the game and we are battling," concluded Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin.
NOTES: Canucks G Eddie Lack started between the pipes after spelling G Roberto Luongo in Saturday's 5-1 loss to the Kings in Los Angeles. ... Vancouver's league-leading penalty kill has not allowed a goal in 23 consecutive attempts. ... Canucks C Henrik Sedin played in his 649th straight game, the sixth-longest streak in NHL history. Sedin still trails Doug Jarvis' all-time mark by 315 games. ... Since the start of the 2010-2011 season, Anaheim RW Corey Perry has scored an NHL-leading 26-game winning goals. ... Ducks LW Dustin Penner's plus-18 rating through his first 11 games was the highest by any NHL player since the 1995-96 season.