If the Ducks are to have any hope of returning to the playoffs this spring they're going to need a lot more gutsy performances like the one they turned in Wednesday at Honda Center, where they beat the Carolina Hurricanes, 3-2, in overtime.
And they're probably going to need a lot more breaks like the one that set up Corey Perry's game-winning goal.
Perry inexplicably avoided a tripping penalty after sending Carolina's Jussi Jokinen to the ice two minutes into the extra period. He then skated away from the scene of the crime, collected the loose puck and scored on the end of a give-and-go with Sheldon Brookbank.
"Might have gotten a break," said Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau, whose team has lost just two of its last 15 games in regulation.
The Carolina bench, led by Coach Kirk Muller, agreed, pleading for a call the Hurricanes didn't get.
"They didn't blow the whistle, so you keep playing," Perry said. "We've had calls against us all year."
Little has gone against them lately, though. Since Jan. 1 only two teams in the NHL have a better record than the Ducks. And over the last month they've moved 12 points closer to a postseason berth.
Sound familiar? It should. Last February the Ducks were 11th and fading fast before they caught fire — and a playoff berth — over the final seven weeks.
"You look where we are in the standings, every point counts for us," said Perry, whose goal was his first in three weeks. "It doesn't matter who it's against."
But if that's the good news, here's the bad: Only two teams in the NHL have a worse road record than the Ducks this season. And guess where the team will play its next eight games?
"We really have a tremendous opportunity to make something big happen," Saku Koivu said of the team's longest trip in more than four seasons. "At the same time it's a big challenge for us."
Wednesday, the Ducks fought back from one-goal deficits twice, first when Nick Bonino stuck his stick in front of defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky's left-handed drive from the blue line midway through the second period and again early in the third when Koivu knocked home the rebound of a Luca Sbisa slap shot after it was deflected by Matt Beleskey.
Koivu's goal came 84 seconds after Eric Staal had given the Hurricanes their final lead of the night.
Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, seemingly abandoned by his defense for long stretches of the game, then came up big several times in the final 10 minutes to force the overtime.
"Right now we have the confidence that we can win those kind of games," Hiller said. "To be twice a goal down and we come back, score and win in overtime. That's the difference right now. Two months ago we would have just lost the game.
"Now we just keep going, push even a little harder. You have to believe in being able to win those games. And right now everyone's believing. We found a way and that's what counts."