The atmosphere in Honda Center was better on Saturday than it had been Thursday night. There seemed to be both more Jets fans and more vociferous Ducks fans, perhaps one being causal of the other. The Jets started fast. The hitting was intense. And then they took some dumb penalties. It didn’t bite them.
They weathered the worst that they perhaps ever will to survive the first period with no score by either team. It should have been the Ducks about two ahead by the end of 20. Corey Perry had the puck on the edge of the crease with a turnaround shot that put the Ducks up 14-3 in SOG by halfway through the first. And that’s a true indication of how well the Ducks were pounding the Jets, not just one of those weird shot totals things.
The Jets got a chance when the Ducks took a penalty, but they got no shots on the power play, and the Ducks, by the end of it, were surging. As the period ended, the play was wide open.
Finally, the playoffs had come to Anaheim.
The second period started with rough stuff. There were some great chances on Ducks semi-breakaways. Patrick Maroon had one, and flipped a backhand that was saved with a leg. But then Winnipeg came alive, buzzing and keeping it in the zone. The Ducks took another penalty, but they were aggressive on the kill.
Cogliano, for instance, kept it in the zone, and fed it to the front. It went back to the corner, and Winnipeg took yet another minor, as if they were bent on destroying their chances for a win. But still there was no score. The shots at halfway through the second were edging closer to even, with 20 for Anaheim and 15 for the Jets.
The pair of Silfverberg and Cogliano, who were noticeable all night, had a chance, and Jackman put one to Kesler, who got a slam shot that was saved.
Then the Jets got the break that could have, should have, turned this series, as it turned this game. They scored a goal that looked like it shouldn’t have counted, when the puck came out from behind the net and Frederik Andersen couldn’t get over to this left to make the save because a Jets player was in there, right in the net, with him.
There was a delay, not video review, but a long conflab amongst the men in stripes. They finally went over to the benches and told the coaches what they’d seen. A goal. Bruce Boudreau was seen to make a big F-bomb on TV. Oops.
The goal was credited to Adam Pardy, his first of the playoffs, at about four minutes to go in P2. After the game, the Ducks’ coach had this to say about it: “He was pushed into the net. And it’s not, maybe next year you can review it, but for now, it’s a bang-bang call, and I can’t sit here and say that it’s a bad call.” Of course, that has a lot to do with the eventual outcome of the game.
The Ducks could have collapsed. They’d had the play all along, and the tally didn’t look legit. But they held on, finishing out the period with an advantage of just one shot, 22-21.
The third period stated with a Jets push. They got a shot-rebound right away, Andersen stretching out with his glove to make the save. Beleskey almost drew the Ducks even with a breakaway where he had just a step on a guy, and after the shot, which was unsuccessful, he was driven hard into the end boards. Then the line of Jackman, Kesler, and Rakell had a go, with a shot that came from the point, a tip, and a save. Then a rebound and another save. Nothing. It was Ducks 26, Jets 22 in shots. The Ducks poured it on, and made it 29-23. Cogliano and Silfverberg created a chance in front off a wrister from Fowler from the blueline. Nothing again.
They could have stopped. They didn’t. The Jets took a penalty, and the puck came from the point with Maroon in front. He redirected it and scored to tie the game at one-one. There were just ten minutes left. The shot was the Ducks’ 35th of the night. On most evenings, that’s going to win the game for you.
They would need one more. They got it with 21 seconds to go, on a play that at first appeared broken. Silfverberg was dumped in front. The puck went out to the middle somewhere. Kesler picked it up and put it behind the net, where a quite snowy Silfverberg picked it up and made a quick turn out, got toward the front-side of the net, and fired it in.
Here’s how he described it: “With nineteen seconds left in the third, you’re not going to do it too often, but obviously it feels good.” Notice that he got the time wrong, but what’s a couple of seconds on an event like this?
When asked to describe it further, he said, “It was a rough game. Two big teams going at each other. Kesler cycled the puck to me, and I got a step on the D that was on me, and I just kind of shot it and it went in. It’s a great feeling for me.” He had been asked about getting up off the ice to score, but he didn’t pick up on that point exactly.
He was asked to comment further, on the matter of the Ducks coming back so often. “It’s going to bite us back at some point, but obviously it’s working for now. We’ve got to play a strong first two periods going forward. It’s a team effort, but obviously that was a big goal, and I’m happy with it.”
His coach was complimentary of his game-winning goalscorer: “He was playing great. He had a couple of opportunities to shoot earlier on and he missed the net. But he has a great release. People around here know this from watching the shootout. I honestly was surprised that it went in—I saw it when I went in the room here.”
When asked about the come-from-behind ways that the Ducks have, Boudreau commented, “That’s why you can score goals, because you didn’t quit. But it was an even game. There was no give and take on either side, on either team, and that’s why it comes down to one goal, in both games.”
He also said that they knew they had to get production from other people in order to be successful.
Moving forward to game three, Monday, he indicated, “It should be exciting. We know how loud their building is on a normal night, and it ought to be pretty ramped up come Monday night. They’ll be pretty excited playing at home there.”
Coach Paul Maurice was less sanguine than he had been Thursday. More glum. Maybe brooding, in his post-game comments. He said he hadn’t seen the Andrew Ladd penalty that put the Ducks up a man and got them their first goal. That is probably untrue. They always say that. He didn’t seem like someone who was happy with what had happened. In fact, Ladd had taken two, midway through both the second and the third. Neither was a “good” penalty. In fact, none that either team took were that. They were mostly just emotional outbursts.
Maurice was looking forward to Monday, he said, suggesting that getting away from Cali would reset things, though not saying that exactly. More like this, which is a paraphrase, “We’ll get on the plane and get home, deal with the game tomorrow, and play again Monday.” The natural reset of being in an entirely different milieu will help, you have to believe. Will it be enough to let the Jets recover from what was, in the end, a loss that could have been prevented? Time alone will tell that tale.
It looks tragic for Winnipeg, in a way. Like it should have gone the other way. But honestly, the Ducks outplayed them. The Jets had very few sterling chances, and the Ducks had a handful. They were at their best when not lured into the chippy style of play that the Jets tried to dictate. But when it was hit or be hit, the Ducks gave as good as they took. And the atmosphere that resulted was buzzing, finally.
Chris Wagner went out midway through with what was called an upper body injury.