He was too weak to be brought out to the media, and it was understandable given the gigantic push he gave his team in a five-minute span to win a game of this magnitude.
Fighting off flu, Getzlaf set up the game-tying and game-winning goals by Bobby Ryan and Teemu Selanne in a span of 64 seconds late in the third period as Anaheim completed an eye-popping comeback for a 4-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks in front of a franchise-record, standing-room only crowd of 17,610 at Honda Center on Wednesday.
Selanne's 670th career goal came off a pretty dish from Getzlaf to complete a comeback from 2-1 down with fewer than six minutes left. Selanne appropriately emerged in lieu of Getzlaf to sum it up.
"If you look at how Getzlaf played all season, he comes through when the time is most critical," said Selanne, who moved into a tie with Bryan Trottier for 15th on the all-time scoring list. "That's what the best players do. Like I said earlier, he's playing an elite season right now. It's fun to watch. You just need a beer and a hot dog to watch. Good seats out there."
Indeed. The first meeting between two teams with winning percentages above .800 this late in the season lived up to the hype with skill and great pace on display, and the Ducks walked away just three points behind Chicago in the Western Conference standings after they re-established a club-record home-winning streak at 13 games.
It kind of boiled down to Getzlaf against captain counterpart Jonathan Toews, who scored a shorthanded goal in the first period and induced a penalty on Sheldon Souray in the second that led to a 2-1 Chicago a 2-1.
But Getzlaf's line shook the Blackhawks-heavy crowd alive when he threw the puck to Ryan, who whacked it in at 14:33 to tie it 2-2. Moments later, Getzlaf took advantage of a line change by Chicago and Selanne slipped free on the right side to wrist in Getzlaf's pass at 15:37.
Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said Getzlaf "could barely get out of bed" that morning and was too weak to take faceoffs.
"I thought he was going to have go in and get an I.V. or something," Boudreau said.
It was a near repeat of the Feb.12 meeting in which Anaheim came back from a 2-1 deficit to win in a shootout. Anaheim's two comeback wins against Chicago this season are the only two times the Blackhawks have lost this season when leading after two periods. Anaheim has rallied from deficits 14 times this season to win.
"It's disappointing, we are not happy about it," Toews said. "We still did some good things out there. So far this season, this is probably one of the highest paced games we've played and obviously the best team. There's a reason why they're right up there with us in the standings."
Without Marian Hossa available because of an upper-body injury, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville often double shifted Patrick Kane and played him on Toews' line. Toews logged 25:21 minutes of ice time and was a minus-4, including the final three Anaheim goals.
"I was fine," Kane said. "It will be nice to get a little break here for me and hopefully we can get some injuries resolved and come back with a better game next game. But I could have done better tonight and obviously I wasn't good enough, and [that's] the reason we lost the game."
Selanne's goal and Anaheim's comeback was marred somewhat in the ensuing faceoff when Brandon Bollig high sticked Andrew Cogliano, who left the game with a bloodied mouth and appeared to have lost teeth. No penalty was called on the play.
Chicago grabbed a hold of the game by the collar midway through the second period, after their first power play produced no shots. Toews drove to the net and forced Souray to grab his shoulder for a holding penalty.
Nick Leddy's slap shot arced through traffic and over a parked Viktor Stalberg in the crease at 11:54. Chicago then played keep away until the second period buzzer, outshooting Anaheim 11-5 in the final 15 minutes.
Toews could not have delivered a more captain-like play to tie it at 1-1. Toews blocked a Souray shot, outraced Getzlaf and Francois Beauchemin down the right side and settled down a rolling puck in time to deke past Hiller at 3:52.
His second shorthanded goal this season came with Bollig in the penalty box for interference.
Anaheim got a great jump with a goal by rookie Peter Holland just 84 seconds into the game. Luca Sbisa missed a shot off the back wall that bounced out the other side to a wide-open Holland for an easy conversion to get the building roaring.
|Peter Holland (3) ASST: Luca Sbisa (7), Daniel Winnik (11)|
1 - 0 ANA
|SHG - Jonathan Toews (15) ASST: NONE|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Nick Leddy (4) ASST: Patrick Kane (22), Brandon Saad (11)|
2 - 1 CHI
|Bobby Ryan (9) ASST: Ryan Getzlaf (23), Kyle Palmieri (5)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Teemu Selanne (7) ASST: Ryan Getzlaf (24)|
3 - 2 ANA
|EN - Sheldon Souray (6) ASST: Jonas Hiller (1)|
4 - 2 ANA
|Brandon Bollig Interference against Cam Fowler|
|Toni Lydman Interference against Andrew Shaw|
|Sheldon Souray Holding against Jonathan Toews|