DALLAS — Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau was certainly trying to remain optimistic, even if he didn’t expect such a dramatic comeback.
“I wasn’t confident at all,” Boudreau admitted. “You’re always hopeful. … But deep down, you don’t really think it’s going to happen.”
Well, it did. And the Ducks are moving on in the playoffs.
The Ducks scored twice in the final 2:10 of regulation, and then Nick Bonino scored in overtime for a 5-4 series-clinching victory over the Dallas Stars in Game 6 on Sunday night.
“It’s still hard to believe. I’ve got butterflies in my stomach,” said Bonino, who also scored one of those late regulation goals. “Scoring the winning goal in a playoff series is something you play in your driveway when you’re a kid.”
Bonino got the game-winner on a wrist shot from in front of the net 2:47 into overtime after getting a pass from Andrew Cogliano, and made sure the Ducks didn’t need a Game 7 to advance in the playoffs for only the second time since winning their lone Stanley Cup title seven years ago.
“We’ve done it all year. We had games when we clawed back, especially in the third period,” Cogliano said. “That’s what the playoffs are all about, to keep clawing.”
The home team won in each of the first five games, but the Ducks wanted to take advantage of the first opportunity they had to end the series.
Anaheim also led its opening-round series 3-2 last year. But the Ducks then lost twice to Detroit, including Game 7 at home.
Trevor Daley scored twice on breakaways for the Stars, , the first goal coming after he got the puck charging out of the penalty box.
Daley, who also had an assist, is the only current player that was also on their last playoff team in 2008 for the Stars, who came so close to a deciding Game 7 in their first season under coach Lindy Ruff.
“Sometimes hockey’s cruel,” Ruff said.
“It was cruel, really cruel, to a group of guys that worked as hard as they possibly could tonight. There wasn’t one guy that was a passenger.”
Bonino skated around the from behind the net and got a puck over Kari Lehtonen’s left shoulder to get the Ducks within 4-3 with 2:10 left in regulation.
“After they got the first one, we were just kind of on our heels too much,” Stars forward Ryan Garbutt said.
Anaheim got the overtime-forcing goal with 24 seconds left after a wild scramble in front of the net with an extra skater and Lehtonen without his stick. When the puck trickled free, Devante Smith-Pelly pushed into the open gap for his second goal of the game for a 4-4 tie.
’I was just standing outside the net, and guys were whacking at it,“ Smith-Pelly said. ”You do what you’ve got to do to score. Not every goal is going to be tic-tac-toe.“
Corey Perry had the primary assists on both third-period goals for the Ducks, who will have to wait to see if they play San Jose or Los Angeles in the second round. Teemu Selanne assisted on the first two Anaheim goals, by Smith-Pelly and Ben Lovejoy.
Ducks veteran goalie Jonas Hiller stopped all 12 shots he faced after replacing rookie Federick Andersen midway through the second period after Daley’s second breakaway put Dallas up 4-2. He stopped only eight shots.