Ugly Duckling Spurs Win

It’s never good when you see your captain lying in the ice in the last few moments of a game, even when you’re winning. That’s what the Ducks players (and fans) had to endure at the end of the team’s 4-3 win against Dallas Wednesday night. Shortly after the game, Coach Boudreau said that they didn’t think things were serious. By Thursday, that was clear. The treatment for a nasty cut included stitches that look on the picture circulating on the internet like they were done by a surgeon holding a flashlight in his teeth.

Doesn’t matter. Getzlaf’s face (and forehead) are not exactly unscarred after even the relatively short time he’s been in the NHL. Though East-coasters might not realize it, he plays the kind of game where he sticks his face in there every night, and this kind of thing is bound to happen.

It was a slapshot on Wednesday, but there he was on Friday evening starting the game, one of those lower cage contraptions attached to his helmet. He was still visorless. (He’s gone back and forth on that over the past few seasons, but he’s back to no visor these days.) Actually looking him in the face after, things appeared more gruesome than on TV or from the distance of the press box. He’s got an incredibly swollen bottom jaw and can hardly talk. He’s missing at least a couple of teeth, maybe more. And those stitches are a jagged line across the upper lip and cheek. Good thing plastic surgery is available at practically every corner convenience store here in SoCal. OK, not really, but this mess will take an expert to clean up.

Was he going to play a timid game as a result? He answered any questions on his first shift, cruising over to the right boards in the Dallas zone and hitting Alex Gologoski hard into the boards. It set the tempo for a rough and nasty first period. Two highlights in that regard: A scrum in front of the Anaheim net after a whistle sees Bryan Allen spin Antione Roussel out of the crease, and Corey Perry lying on the ice in the Dallas crease with Trevor Daly on top of him roughing him up.

Perry spent most of the period looking positively ticked off. His usual smirk, which at times turns into a kind of devilish smile in the dressing room after a win, was gone. Instead? A grim, tight-lipped sneer. He had been hit hard with a knee to the backside early in the frame and retaliated with a spear that ended up getting him a slashing penalty.

After the Daly play, which got the Stars a penalty, Perry was on left wing for a faceoff taking place at the right dot in the Stars’ end, and he was standing well back of the hash mark. At the same time, Roussel was encroaching on his space, and Perry was looking to the referee after the puck dropped, again angry. He had a shot in the period, one of ten for the Ducks, and three hits, most of any forward.

He and Getzlaf led the Ducks forwards in time on the ice, and on this night, they were playing with Devante Smith-Pelly. On Wednesday, it had been Matt Beleskey, but he went out late with a lower-body injury. Smith-Pelly, as is well known, is a local kid, drafted out of SoCal in 2010. His career thus far has included no playoff games but this one, and 75 regular-season matches. He played in 19 this year, recording ten points on two goals. His lifetime NHL goal total is nine.

The Stars scored first, extending their consecutive goals streak in the series to four and effectively tying things up with the Ducks.

But then Mr. Getzlaf delivered another message. He grabbed a puck at the right boards and walked out with it. He hesitated, one guy’s stick on him, and fought that off. He cruised forward, looking to the guy headed to the front, picked up his stick and crossed it over the puck as if to suggest a pass, and then shot it high and true over Lehtonen. 1-1, and he pumped a fist and put his leg up, horse-riding fashion, in celebration. He may be ugly (not really), but he’s not going to be deterred from leading his Ducks.

The game settled down in period two, with Anaheim carrying much of the action and the only goal coming off a Dallas turnover. This one got the angry little pest Corey Perry on the board for the first time after he grabbed turnover in the neutral zone and went in, taking a slapshot from the dot and scoring to the far side.

Dallas’s response to the Ducks’ lead was, naturally, to put their best weapons out on the ice, their first line of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Alex Chiasson. The problem for them had been that the Ducks’ checking line, now Cogliano, Koivu, and Silfverberg, was on them. And when Lindy Ruff adjusted his use of the top guys so that they were out against the Getzlaf line, the Cogliano line tore it up in the offensive zone.

Cogliano took the puck in left side and zinged a wrister. It went behind the net and the next thing, Silfverberg had it on his stick out on the right side.

Ruff had seen enough, and the next time the Cogliano line was on, so was his top line. I know that sounds backwards, but it’s what happened. Through two periods, the Dallas big line had four shots, three of them, including the one that scored them their first goal, by Chiasson. Their time on ice was hoving between 12 and 13 minutes apiece, way out front of all other Dallas forwards save Cody Eakin.

The Ducks, meanwhile, were using their top line, but balancing them with the rest. They had seven guys over 10 minutes through two, and nobody even at 13. Getzlaf led with 12:50.

The lines aside from the aforementioned first and third were Selanne with Perreault and Maroon and Palmieri, Winnik, and Bonino. The Selanne retirement tour as it continues saw him play a nearly invisible game on Wednesday despite getting an assist. Friday he was more visible early, crashing the net and getting a shot that Lehtonen made a good leg save on. But his line wasn’t all that prominent. The other trio ought to be fast (Bonino) and tough (Winnik), but one wonders if the two are incompatible.

The Stars pressed in period three and scored, but before that, the Ducks did in the form of a shorthanded goal by Cogliano. It was really Lehtonen’s fault. The puck had come down to him, and he fired it slowly to the half wall. There was nobody to get it and the Ducks stole it and directed it behind the net. It came out to Cogliano at the right side of the net and he chipped it over the goalie.

He described the goal this way after: “I knew I had to get to the higher part of the net, and I don’t necessarily think that I was thinking about that before it got to me, but I think it was a good shot simply because it was coming across, he was coming across, and I had to go up top.” In fact, Lehtonen did a two-pad stack on the play, old-style, and he went over to try to make the save. Classic, but it didn’t work.

On the other hand, the Dallas point of view on the play was that there should have been a penalty behind the net. Gonchar was slashed there, breaking his stick. He felt that it should have been a penalty, and that would have put the Stars on a five-on-three. “Nobody’s happy about the game, but it’s a seven-game series. I think we’re playing better. We had a chance to tie this game, and I think the referee should have got penalty, on me, behind the net. It should have been a five-on-three instead of a goal against. But these things happen on their side too, and we just have to keep focused. We have to play the same way we played in the third period.”

The Dallas goal came off of Garbutt’s stick at about midway through the period.

Looking at the ice time stats, the big line of Dallas ended the night with just about 22 minutes each. They accounted for only seven of the team’s 36 shots, though. The goals were not theirs, either.

On the other side, the Ducks had a balanced attack through most of the evening, with many of their forwards—eight—in the 15-minute range. None were over 20 minutes, with Getzlaf being the leader at 19:40.

What might surprise you is that second behind him was not Perry. It wasn’t Koivu, or Winnik, or Cogliano. It was Nick Bonino, in large part because he got nearly five minutes on the PK. His total on the night was 18:13, with Winnik, whose 6:11 on the PK was second on the entire team only to Robidas’ 16:17, getting 17:38.

So it was a balanced Ducks offense and a balanced Ducks defense, though the coach was not entirely happy afterwards. He said that his guys were “losing their composure a little bit,” aside from his top players. He said that he hoped Getzlaf’s performance was noted given that he’d had a rough couple of days what with his injury and his wife having had a child.

“As many mistakes as we were making, including turnovers . . . we were blocking shots and getting in the lanes and doing the things that are necessary to win, and then the goalie’s making big saves in the end. I’d like to play different, I’d like it to come down different, but in the end, that’s the way it is.

He finished by saying that the Dallas fans are going to be a factor when the series resumes there Monday. “We’re going to have to go there and play really well in their building, where their fans are really loud, if we want to come back here with whatever, with another win.”

Notes

Getzlaf said that he had been at the hospital last night, gone home, then come back and had the chance to hold his new daughter, Willa, a little before going home to rest again. His goal was his second so far to go with one assist. He has five points in his last three playoff games dating to last season.

He also scored the team’s last playoff shorthanded goal, against Detroit last spring. The last one prior to Cogliano’s on Friday, that is.

I’m on twitter @growinguphockey.

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