While the Chicago Blackhawks captured the NHL spotlight with their record start to the regular season, the Anaheim Ducks cruised right along behind them, waiting for their chance.
When that opportunity arrived late in the third period on Wednesday night, Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne made the most of it.
Getzlaf set up Bobby Ryan’s equalizer and Selanne’s tiebreaker 1 minute, 4 seconds apart in the waning minutes as the Ducks rallied for a 4-2 victory over Chicago in a meeting of the NHL’s top two teams.
Jonas Hiller stopped 22 shots, while Peter Holland and Sheldon Souray scored as the Ducks extended their club-record home winning streak to 13 games in dramatic fashion.
Anaheim pulled within three points of Chicago at the top of the overall NHL standings by dealing the Blackhawks just their third regulation loss of the season.
“It means a lot,” Ryan said.
“They’ve made a statement to run away with it so far and we’ve quietly just gone about our business. To be three points back with a game in hand is huge ... It’s been a fun ride to be a part of and I hope it continues,” he added.
The largest crowd in Honda Center history was packed with boisterous fans of both teams for a prominent game in this lockout-shortened year.
Two clubs with a points percentage above .800 had never met this late in an NHL season and they lived up to their pedigrees in a fast-paced game, which showcased their skill and tenacity.
“They obviously have the advantage right now because they’ve got four points [in their two meetings] and we’ve got one, so I’m sure they’re feeling pretty good, but hopefully we can learn from these games, and move forward and become a better team because of it,” Chicago’s Patrick Kane said.
“We’ve made a couple of mental mistakes lately that have cost us,” he added.
Corey Crawford made 22 saves for the Blackhawks, who appeared to be headed for a 2-1 road victory until Anaheim scored three times in stunning style.
Elsewhere, the Maple Leafs had a 4-2 win over the Lighting, Minnesota beat the Red Wings by the same margin, the Sharks edged the Oilers 4-3 in a shootout and the Avalanche held off the Stars 4-3.
In Toronto, Nazem Kadri had three assists, while Joffrey Lupul added a goal and an assist as the Maple Leafs ended a five-game winless skid.
Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak and Nikolai Kulemin also scored for Toronto.
Kadri’s three points tied a career high and he had a chance at a fourth point, but was hauled down in front of goal by Teddy Purcell midway through the third period.
Devin Setoguchi had two goals and Niklas Backstrom made 36 saves for Minnesota in Detroit, Michigan.
Kyle Brodziak and Mikko Koivu also scored for Minnesota, who won their fourth straight. Pierre-Marc Bouchard had two assists.
In Edmonton, Alberta, Logan Couture scored twice in regulation and added a shootout goal, while Dan Boyle netted the tiebreaker winner in the San Jose Sharks’ victory.