Gabriel Landeskog, who battled flu-like symptoms earlier in the day and was questionable as to whether he would even play, scored at 1:52 of overtime and goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 38 saves to lift the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-2 victory over the fading Anaheim Ducks Monday night at the Pepsi Center.
The win was Colorado's eighth in their last 11 contests, propelling them into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings.
For Anaheim, the loss of a point was crushing to their dwindling postseason hopes. For the Ducks -- who currently sit in the 12th spot in the West with 69 points -- to qualify for the NHL's second season, they would have to climb over four teams, and make up more than nine points more than each along the way, with just 12 contests remaining on the schedule.
Jamie McGinn got Colorado on the board midway through the opening period when he beat Jonas Hiller on a quick turnaround shot from the right circle high over the goaltender's waving glove for his 17th goal of the year, and fifth in the last four games. The goal gave him points in four consecutive contests, and five goals and seven points in the seven games since the left winger was acquired from the San Jose Sharks at the trade deadline.
Varlamov made a couple of big saves midway through the second period, stopping a Saku Koivu shot, then flopping acrobatically to stop Teemu Selanne's backhand offering on the rebound.
Just when it appeared the Avs would take a 1-0 lead into the locker room after two periods, the Ducks made good on a late flurry of offensive pressure. Anaheim defenseman Francois Beauchemin knotted the score in the waning moments of the middle frame, jumping up in the play and knocking a rebound past Varlamov from in tight for his seventh goal of the season with just 1.4 seconds remaining in the stanza to make it a 1-1 game at the second intermission.
Beauchemin came up with a big play early in the third period, when a shot trickled through the pads of Hiller and was heading toward goal line, but the defenseman was able to get to the puck and clear it from harm's way just before reaching the line.
The Avs would get a contribution from an unlikely source, their fourth line, when Kevin Porter deflected a Jan Hejda shot from the left point past Hiller for his fourth goal of the year to give the home team a 2-1 lead with just 6:47 left in regulation.
But Anaheim would not go away quietly, as Selanne picked up a Matt Beleskey redirection at the right hash mark and fired a wrist shot over Varlamov with 4:08 remaining, just 16 seconds after Avs defender Shane O'Brien was whistled for interfering with Jason Blake. The goal was Selanne's 22nd of the season, and moved the future Hall of Famer past Jari Kurri and into sole possession of 19th place in the all-time scoring list with his 1,399th career point.
The Avalanche had a golden opportunity to regain the lead when Ryan O'Reilly stole the puck from Lubomir Visnovsky and went in on a breakaway with 3:17 remaining in regulation, but was stoned by the glove hand of Hiller. O'Reilly was tripped up from behind as he was letting his shot go, but no penalty call was forthcoming -- to the dismay and ire of the entire Colorado bench.
The game headed into overtime, setting up the Calder Trophy candidate's dramatic game-winning goal. As Visnovsky attempted to clear the zone, Matt Hunwick kept the puck in the Ducks' zone to Landeskog. The rookie darted to the slot and while using Steve Downie as a decoy at the left circle, drilled a shot over Hiller's glove to the short side for his 19th goal of the season and the Colorado victory.
Varlamov was spectacular at times in the Avalanche crease, stopping 38 of 40 Ducks shots to win his second consecutive game. The Russian-born netminder has won four of his last five and seven of his last nine decisions to improve to 22-20-2 on the year.
Hiller, who made his 29th straight start for Anaheim, made 30 saves in losing his third consecutive game (0-2-1). The Swiss goalie's record dropped to 26-25-11 for the season.
Bobby Ryan assisted on both Ducks goals in a losing cause.