The Anaheim Ducks found an unlikely offensive catalyst Wednesday night in 20-year old defenceman Shea Theodore.
Theodore's first NHL goal put Anaheim ahead late in the third period, sparking a 4-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.
With Patrick Wiercioch in the penalty box for slashing, the rookie, playing in just his seventh career game, calmly sent a rising wrist shot under Craig Anderson's right armpit with 4:55 remaining.
Carl Hagelin and Jakob Silfverberg scored soon afterward to give Anaheim its third win in five games. Andrew Cogliano also scored, and Frederik Andersen made 24 saves in his first start since Jan. 1.
"He opened the floodgates for sure," Hagelin said. "It was great to see him score. We need other guys than our top guys to contribute offensively, so it was great the other guys get some goals tonight."
After only scoring four or more goals six times entering their longest homestand of the season, the Ducks have now done so three times in the last 10 days.
Curtis Lazar scored for Ottawa, and Anderson turned away 34 shots.
Ryan Getzlaf found Theodore for the winning goal and some redemption after a brutal gaffe that led to the Senators' only score. Anaheim's captain attempted a blind, backward pass that was easily picked off by Lazar, gifting him an easy breakaway for his third goal of the season.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau benched Getzlaf for more than 8 minutes after the giveaway. When he did eventually return to the ice, Getzlaf was centreing Anaheim's fourth line.
But when Anaheim was on the power play, Boudreau turned back to Getzlaf, and the veteran responded.
"He believes in himself and he knows he is one of the best players in the league," Hagelin said. "He made one heck of a play to Shea before his goal. That was the difference in the game."
"He is a really proud man and the team picked him up. It was good to see that he vindicated himself a little bit," Boudreau said.
Cogliano put the Ducks ahead 7:06 into the second period, reversing the momentum of a stretch that had been dominated by Ottawa. Anaheim capitalized when Kevin Bieksa broke up a promising sequence for the Senators and fed Cogliano, who broke to the other end of the ice to put a wrist shot under a sliding Anderson's right leg.
Broke scoreless streak
It was Cogliano's fourth goal of the season and broke a 17-game scoreless streak. Cogliano's 66th goal for the Ducks puts him alone in ninth place on the club's scoring list, breaking a tie with Matt Cullen.
Prior to Cogliano's goal, Ottawa looked more likely to be the first team on the scoreboard coming out of the first intermission. Clayton Stoner nearly backhanded the puck into his own goal on a Senators' power play, forcing Andersen to make a desperation save. Zack Smith grabbed the loose puck and tried for a wraparound, only to be denied by Hampus Lindholm.
However, Senators coach Dave Cameron thought those opportunities were too few and far between.
"I still don't think we're generating enough shots 5-on-5, particularly from my top line," Cameron said. "I think we're trying to look for the Grade-A chance every time. This time of the year it's a fine line and we were on the wrong side of it tonight."
Ottawa's 25 shots were its fewest since returning from the Christmas break.