He hadn't played in a game for the Ducks since March 11, but suddenly rookie Brett Festerling was thrust into a tense Game 4 on Thursday night, against the defending champion Detroit Red Wings, no less.
A lung contusion suffered in Game 3 by James Wisniewski kept him out of Game 4 by doctors' orders, leaving Ducks coach Randy Carlyle forced to choose a replacement among three rookie d-men. He went for Festerling (over Brendan Mikkelson and Brian Salcido), who had already seen time in 40 games for the Ducks this season. He had five assists and a plus-5 mark with the Ducks and seven points in 34 games for Iowa. He was sent down for the remainder of the Chops' regular season on March 15.
Festerling, who had already been practicing with the Ducks with the fellow rookies after their AHL season ended with the Iowa Chops, welcomed the challenge.
"I knew they were a good team,” he said of the Red Wings. “They’ve always been good and it was going to be fast game. On top of all that, I was excited. It was my first playoff game.”
He played 14 minutes, 34 seconds, mostly partnered with Sheldon Brookbank, and didn't take long to feel comfortable doing what he does. “At first there was a lot of grinding down low in the corners,” the 23-year-old Festerling said. “That’s what I like to do and it got me into the game for the most part.”
Festerling was on the ice for one of the Detroit goals, when he got caught starting toward the bench and had to double-back before Mikael Samuelsson lasered a wrist shot home for Detroit's fifth goal. The Red Wings would go on to win 6-3, evening the series at two games apiece as it heads back to Detroit. So far there is no word on whether Wisniewski will be cleared to return to the lineup. If he can't, it will likely be Festerling in his spot again.
“I think I held my own pretty well, coming in after not playing in almost a month (in the minors), and coming in against Detroit in the playoffs,” Festerling said. “I thought I did decent but that being said, we didn’t get the win and that’s the main goal and that’s my goal. From that point it’s disappointing.”