ANAHEIM, Calif. -- At age 35, Scott Niedermayer needs all the open ice he can get. And with a 3-on-3 situation materializing in overtime, the Anaheim captain again made the most of the extra skating room.
Niedermayer scored at 3:37 of the extra period, and the Ducks got vital contributions from newcomers Erik Christensen, Ryan Whitney and Petteri Nokelainen to beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 on Wednesday night and strengthen their playoff hopes.
Pavol Demitra was sent off for hooking Ryan Getzlaf 2:13 into OT, but a penalty to Teemu Selanne for holding Mattias Ohlund negated the power play. The teams were skating 3-on-3 when Chris Pronger gave the puck to Niedermayer at the Anaheim blue line, and he outskated Daniel Sedin before beating Roberto Luongo to the stick side.
"I was just worried about not getting caught from behind and making a good shot," Niedermayer said. "Fortunately, I kind of bobbled it. So I really didn't have time to think too much, which is probably good. I just went down and tried to get it up high."
The overtime goal was Niedermayer's second during a 3-on-3 situation in the past 12 games. On Feb. 11 at Anaheim, he did the same thing to the Calgary Flames in a 3-2 victory. Niedermayer, has 12 goals in OT, the most among defensemen since the league adopted the overtime format in 1983-84.
"It was a special play by a special player that won it for us," coach Randy Carlyle said. "It's always enjoyable when you can find a way to win. We've worked hard in some games and had as many chances as we've had tonight and still come up empty."
The victory gave Anaheim 70 points, tying idle Minnesota and Dallas for ninth place in the Western Conference, one point behind Edmonton and Nashville for the final playoff spot. The Canucks, who have lost two straight after winning 12 of their previous 14, are fifth with 77 points.
"It's a good win. Two points. For sure, we're happy about that, but we've got a long way to go," Niedermayer said. "It's nice to get back on the winning way. The fans deserve it. They deserve better than what they've got."
Nokelainen, Selanne and Getzlaf also scored, Christensen and Whitney each had two assists, and Jonas Hiller made 32 saves to help the Ducks snap a three-game losing streak.
Anaheim saw two other goals disallowed, one by Whitney because the puck went in through the side of the net, the other by Christensen because of a penalty against Getzlaf for goalie interference.
Alexandre Burrows, Kyle Wellwood and Ryan Kesler scored for the Canucks, who won the previous meeting 7-6 in a 13-round shootout on Oct. 31 in Anaheim. Luongo made 37 saves, the first time he allowed more than three goals in his past 12 starts.
"We wanted this win. We did a lot of good things to fight back. We battled twice to tie it up. And then to give up a breakaway at the end is pretty frustrating," Burrows said. "Right now, it feels like we gave up a point."
Kesler got the equalizer with 4:58 left in the third period, poking the puck past Hiller after Demitra's pass from behind the net caromed off Mats Sundin and right to Kesler. Kesler and Burrows reached the 20-goal mark on the same night, giving Vancouver three 20-goal scorers for the fourth consecutive season.
Hiller stopped all 12 shots he faced during Vancouver's first four power plays, and the first 22 overall by the Canucks, before they tied it at 2 at 10:37 of the second period on shots by Burrows and Wellwood 50 seconds apart.
The Ducks regained the lead at 13:21 of the period when Nokelainen converted a rebound after Luongo stopped Christensen's wrist shot from the top of the right circle. The goal ended a 42-game drought going back to last season for Nokelainen, acquired from Boston on March 4 for defenseman Steve Montador.
Selanne opened the scoring at 17:35 of the first period with his 21st goal and 573rd of his career, which tied Mike Bossy for 18th place on the career list. Henrik Sedin attempted a backhanded clearing pass from the left corner and put it right onto the stick of Selanne, who carried it into the low slot and beat Luongo between the pads.
The Ducks made it 2-0 at 6:26 of the second period with Getzlaf's 21st goal and first in eight games. Whitney's wrist shot from the left point hit traffic in front of the net and Christensen pushed the puck over to Getzlaf, who had plenty of daylight to shoot at with Luongo out of position.
- Bossy played in 752 regular-season games -- 366 fewer than Selanne.
- Over the previous three seasons, the Ducks were a combined 50-17-8 during the final 25-game segment of the regular season. They have begun the final 25-game stretch of this season 4-6-1.
- This was the 19th time Vancouver has played the Ducks and Kings in back-to-back road games, and the fourth time the Canucks lost both of them. They won both the last time they were in Southern California on Oct. 30-31.
- Anaheim D Bret Hedican, who spent parts of six seasons with Vancouver, missed his fifth consecutive game because of back spasms.
- Anaheim is 20-1-0 when leading after two periods. The only blemish came against Detroit on Jan. 14, when the Ducks took a 3-2 lead into the third period at home and lost 4-3.
- Anaheim is 1-for-24 on the power play over its past seven games.
- Sundin has seven goals and 10 assists in 25 games for Vancouver since signing a one-year free-agent deal Dec. 18.