Saku Koivu has perfected the 6-on-4, third-period, game-tying goal.
On Saturday, he also found the perfect shootout move.
A late power-play goal by Koivu sent the Ducks into overtime for the second straight night. But unlike after Friday’s shootout loss to Vancouver, Anaheim was in a celebratory mood after Koivu lifted a forehand past Jonathan Quick in the third shootout round against the Kings.
Koivu – along with linemates Jason Blake and Teemu Selanne – are doing more than giving the Ducks the most consistent second scoring line they’ve had in years.
“With the loss of Getzlaf, (Koivu’s) been taking over our number one center position,” Randy Carlyle said. “We’re desperate for points and we have to continue to focus on what we can control.”
Koivu played 24:28 on Saturday, the most of any Ducks forward. Perry was next at 22:26, and the 39-year-old Selanne clocked in at 21:49. Perry and Bobby Ryan were responsible for the assists on Koivu’s goal, his 19th of the season.
With one more goal over the final four regular-season games, Koivu can reach 20 goals for the first time since the 2006-07 season in Montreal.
Of bigger importance to the Ducks is the four standings points needed to catch Calgary and Colorado, who are tied for the eighth and final playoff position (the Avalanche have one game in hand). Anaheim’s playoff ambitions, however remote, are apparently not dead.
“We’ve got to win these all until the end and get help from other teams but we are going to push until the end,” Koivu said. “We are playing a lot better defensively and not giving up chances against the opponent. When you do that and play patient hockey, sooner or later with the skill we have on this team, we’re going to create chances.”
The defense limited the Kings to 29 shots on goal. Only a first-period power play drive by Jack Johnson beat Curtis McElhinney, who improved to 4-0-1 as the starter in place of Jonas Hiller. The deadline-day acquisition also improved to 2-1 lifetime in shootouts, stoning Anze Kopitar, Johnson and Dustin Brown in the skills competition.
“McElhinney gave us a chance,” Carlyle said. “Three big stops in the shootout to give us the extra points. That’s difficult for a goalie. Curtis is very professional. He’s business-like, goes in and does his job, and doesn’t look for any fanfare. He’s getting rewarded for all the work that he’s put in.”
Getzlaf missed his fifth straight game with a high ankle sprain. Dan Sexton, Nathan Oystrick, Ryan Carter, Aaron Ward and Rob Bordson were the healthy scratches.