VANCOUVER — J.T. Miller made good on his chances in an impressive 700th career NHL game.
Miller capped a two-goal effort with the game winner 20 seconds into overtime and the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 on Wednesday night.
“Their guy just kind of gave me a lane and at that point they were flat-footed,” said Miller. “But you don't get many chances just to attack in overtime with a free lane to shoot.”
Andrei Kuzmenko also scored for the Canucks (27-32-5), while Elias Pettersson contributed a pair of helpers.
The victory extended Vancouver’s winning streak to three games.
“I thought we had a lot of possession time, I like most of the game,” said Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet. “I think the guys worked hard.”
Vancouver goaltender Thatcher Demko made 20 saves to improve to 3-1 since returning from injury on Feb. 27.
Troy Terry and Brock McGinn each had a goal for the Ducks (21-35-9), who had won four of their last six entering Wednesday night. Anaheim lost the first of back-to-back games against Seattle on Tuesday.
“I thought we played a hell of a game here,” said Ducks coach Dallas Eakins. “(In) this league it's always hard to win that second game on a back-to-back but I thought we played a really good four-line game, our goaltending was good, and we put ourselves in a spot to at least get a point.”
Lukas Dostal stopped 31-of-34 shots for Anaheim.
The Ducks struck first with a backhanded goal from Terry off a dish from Mason McTavish at 3:40 of the opening period.
Miller levelled the score with a short-handed marker at 14:44 on an assist from Pettersson after intercepting a pass from Dostal behind the net.
“I felt the goalie only had one play and that was to pass it through me and I was lucky it hit my shaft,” said Pettersson. “I had a feeling (Miller) would be there and I looked up and he was wide open.”
Pettersson leads the league with eight short-handed points.
Vancouver continued its strong play on the penalty kill in the first as the Ducks managed just one shot attempt on the man advantage despite defencemen Guillaume Brisebois and Kyle Burroughs being in the penalty box. Prior to Wednesday, the Canucks had killed 13 of the last 15 power plays they faced.
"Those guys got some magic the way they’re approaching the penalty kill,” Tocchet said.
Kuzmenko put the Canucks in front at 14:23 of the second period when his shot deflected off McTavish and in for his 30th of the season.
Twenty seconds later, McGinn evened the score on a rebound. It was McGinn’s first as a member of the Ducks after Pittsburgh dealt him at the trade deadline.
The Canucks came out aggressively in the final period, getting the first six shots on goal but failing to convert.
Despite outshooting the Ducks 12-7 in the third, the Canucks ended up in extra time for the second straight game.
But 20 seconds into overtime, Miller went top shelf with a wrist shot to help Vancouver improve to 3-1 in its six-game homestand.
“It means a lot, we really struggled with that third game this year.” Miller said. “I think we played the right way for the majority of the game.
"I think if we can hang our hat on doing that on most nights we're going to come out with success no matter who we're playing.”
SUPPORT FOR STOTHERS
Last Saturday, the Ducks announced that assistant coach Mike Stothers had been diagnosed with Stage 3 Melanoma of the Lymph Node. The 61-year-old coach and former NHL player is away from the team for the three-game road trip and under care. Stothers has indicated that he plans on returning to the bench this season.
After missing the game against Nashville due to illness on Monday, goaltender Collin Delia returned Wednesday, backing up Demko. His replacement, rookie Arturs Silovs, was sent back to the AHL's Abbotsford Canucks.
The Canucks host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday in the fifth of a six-game homestand.
The Ducks wrap up their three-game road trip on Friday against the Calgary Flames.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2023.
Gerald Narciso, The Canadian Press