Ducks use another third period rally to beat Blackhawks

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Say this for Wednesday's Chicago-Anaheim game: It lived up to the hype.

The top two teams in the Western Conference played a thrilling game that was won by the Ducks 4-2 thanks to a three-goal explosion in the final six minutes, including the game-winner from future Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne, to improve their record to 22-3-4 on the season and erase yet another third period deficit.

The win also pulled the Ducks to within three points of the Blackhawks for the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference. Bet you didn't see that coming at the start of the season.

It's not just that Anaheim won (again), it's that it did so with yet another third period comeback. It was its league-leading fifth win this season when trailing after two periods, and pushed the team's record to 5-2 when entering the final period trailing. That's just crazy.

There is only one other team in the NHL this season that has even a .500 record (and that would be Chicago) when trailing after two. It's a ridiculously small sample size, of course, but Anaheim is winning over 70 percent of the games in which it trails after 40 minutes of play.

It's almost unbelievable.

But it's working for now, even if it's not exactly a recipe for consistent, sustained success.

Just looking at the past three full seasons worth of games, the average NHL team only wins about 15 percent of the time when trailing after two periods. Since the start of the 2009-10 season only two teams managed to win more than 30 percent of such games (the '09-10 Canucks and '09-10 Capitals) and none more than 36 percent.

Just because it's worth repeating, Anaheim is currently over 70 percent.

Sooner or later you have to think some of those breaks aren't going to go the Ducks' way, right?

Then again, I've been saying that all year in a lot of other areas.

I haven't been all that high on the Ducks this season despite their record (as long as they keep winning I'll accept the egg on my face), and this is one of the reasons why. I'm just not sure how long they can keep playing with fire the way they are, whether it's how often they get outshot and outchanced on a nightly basis, or the way they've rallied for more third period comebacks than any other team in the league. Sooner or later you're not going to be able to dig yourself out of that hole.

But even if those percentages do average out a bit over the final 19 games of the season they've still given themselves a huge cushion to win the Pacific Division. And in a 48-game season, they most likely will. Los Angeles, the second place team in the division, is a great team and a Stanley Cup contender again but it's not going to close a 12-point gap in 19 games.

It's been a perfect storm for the Ducks this season in many, many ways, and it's put them in a great position for the stretch run.

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CBS Sports Writer

Adam Gretz has been writing about the NHL and taking an analytical approach to the game since the start of the 2008 season. A member of the PHWA since 2015, he has spent more than three years covering... Full Bio

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