ANAHEIM (The Sports Xchange) — By ending his longest offensive drought to start a season, right winger Corey Perry enabled the Anaheim Ducks to win their second consecutive game.
Perry scored his first goal of the season with 5.1 seconds to play, and the Ducks earned a 3-2 shootout win over the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night in front of 15,169 at the Honda Center.
“This was a big character game for us,” Perry said. “There was no doubt in this dressing room that we were going to win.”
The 2011 Hart Memorial Trophy winner as the NHL’s most valuable player forced a 2-2 tie by scoring on a power play 34 seconds after Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell received a penalty for high sticking.
Center Ryan Kesler’s slap shot from the top of the slot was deflected to Perry, who converted near the left-wing post.
After he scored, Perry fell to his knees with his arms raised, then fell backward in relief as his teammates mobbed him.
Goalie Frederik Andersen prevented Florida from winning in overtime when he used his left pad to stop a wrist shot from right winger Reilly Smith on a two-on-none breakaway with about three minutes left in the extra period.
During the shootout, Anaheim forwards Jakob Silfverberg and Chris Stewart converted against Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo, who finished with 37 saves.
“He played an unbelievable game,” Florida left winger Rocco Grimaldi said of Luongo. “He made some spectacular saves.”
Center Brandon Pirri scored on the Panthers’ first shootout attempt, but after center Vincent Trocheck shot wide, Andersen stopped centers Nick Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau. Andersen was credited with 23 saves through regulation and overtime.
“It’s certainly an important win, especially coming from behind, which we haven’t done all year,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. “But until you get into winning three, four, five games in a row, it’s still a work in progress.”
The Panthers (5-4-3) took a 1-0 lead at 5:01 of the second period, when Grimaldi scored his second goal in nine career games and his first of the season. Right winger Quinton Howden began the sequence by stealing the puck from Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm along the right boards.
Howden passed to center Derek MacKenzie, who skated toward the net before passing behind himself. Howden let the puck go through his legs to Grimaldi, who converted a wrist shot that deflected off the left skate of Anaheim defender Kevin Bieksa and past Andersen.
“It was awesome with my family here, especially with my grandparents in the stands,” said Grimaldi, an Anaheim native. “They haven’t seen me play in a long time. I had family, friends and trainers here, all people who helped me get (to the NHL).”
The Ducks tied the score nearly three minutes later. Stewart converted from the right circle for his second goal at 7:50, one second after Anaheim’s power play ended.
Florida regained the lead at 2-1 about 10 minutes later. After Andersen made a stick save on Bjugstad’s shot from the left circle, the rebound slid to defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who fired a slap shot from the right circle at 17:57 for his first goal.
NOTES: Florida scratched C Connor Brickley, D Steven Kampfer and LW Shawn Thornton. … Panthers RW Jaromir Jagr, the team’s leading scorer, returned after missing two games with rib and groin injuries. Jagr needs four goals to pass Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne and move into fourth place all time. Jagr also needs one power-play point to break a tie with Teemu Selanne for 12th place all-time. … Panthers C Rocco Grimaldi, a native of Anaheim, played against the Ducks for the first time. Grimaldi collected Beanie Babies representing Selanne and Paul Kariya as a child. … Anaheim scratched D Josh Manson. … The Ducks placed LW Jiri Sekac on injured reserve Tuesday after he sprained his right ankle in the second period Sunday night in a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators. … Ducks C Ryan Getzlaf (appendectomy) participated in an optional skating session Wednesday morning. No date is set for Getzlaf’s return.
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