By Kyle Shohara
For the first time in this series, the Ducks find themselves in a position to eliminate the Dallas Stars in this evenly matched first-round matchup.
“When you have opportunities, you want to take advantage of them,” said captain Ryan Getzlaf. “Our group has done a great job of having opportunities and seizing them.” Getzlaf referenced the Pacific Division-clinching victory over the Sharks on April 9, and earning the top spot in the conference with a shootout victory at LA three nights later. “Those are things we’ve learned from last year and have built on now.”
The Ducks were in a similar situation during last year’s first-round series against Detroit. Holding a 3-2 lead in that series, the Ducks entered Game 6 at Joe Louis Arena with a chance to eliminate the Wings. But they lost that game 4-3 in overtime, and then dropped Game 7 by a 3-2 score at Honda Center.
“The hardest game to win is the fourth one,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “When you corner a bear, they fight the hardest. That experience with most of the guys who were here last year, I hope works [tonight]. We don’t want to wait for a seventh game if we can help it because anything can happen in Game 7s.”
“It’s going to be a tough game,” said Corey Perry. “It’s do-or-die for them, and they’re in front of their home fans again. We haven’t had much success in this building. But if we can come out and have a good start and do the things we talk about each and every day, we’re going to be all right.”
The Ducks don’t expect anything less than Dallas’ best effort in this must-win game. “Teams don’t play their best hockey until their backs are against the wall,” said Nick Bonino. “We’re going to need our best game to win it.”
Frederik Andersen is expected to start in net tonight, as he's done all series. Through five games, the 24-year-old is 3-2 with a 2.93 goals-against average and .909 save percentage.
FINED BUT NOT SUSPENDED
Yesterday the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced that Stars forward Ryan Garbutt was fined $1,474.36 for spearing Corey Perry during Game 5 at Honda Center. The fine was the maximum allowable under the CBA. Garbutt received a major penalty for the play as well as a game misconduct.
Garbutt was the player who fractured Stephane Robidas’ right leg when we undercutted the Ducks defenseman while both chased a loose puck. It was the second right-leg fracture in five months for Robidas. Garbutt was also guilty of slashing Andrew Cogliano in the face earlier in the series.
Earlier this week, Boudreau said Game 6 would be the most likely return date for Ducks forward Matt Beleskey. The gritty forward has been out since Game 1 with a lower-body injury, but this morning skated on a line with Rickard Rakell and Devante Smith-Pelly. On Beleskey’s status for tonight, all Boudreau would say is that he’s a “game-time decision.” All other line combinations were intact for the skate, leaving Emerson Etem, Kyle Palmieri and Daniel Winnik as the likely scratches for tonight’s game if Beleskey draws back into the lineup.
O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!
Getzlaf enters Game 6 leading the Ducks in points (3-4=7), goals and assists, and co-leading in plus/minus (+3). Getzlaf has points in four of his last five postseason games (3-5=8) and became the club's all-time leading playoff scorer with 24-42=66 points in 73 games with a three-point night (1-2=3) in Game 5 at Honda Center.
The Ducks are 10-1 all-time when Getzlaf and Perry score in the same playoff game, including Friday’s 6-2 victory. Since dropping a 5-3 decision in Game 3 of the 2007 Stanley Cup Final on June 2 at Ottawa, Anaheim has won 10 consecutive playoff games with Getzlaf and Perry scoring. In those 10 wins, the team has outscored its opponents, 44-21. Perry and Getzlaf scored in the same game 13 times in the regular season, tied for the most by a duo with – go figure – Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin (Elias Sports Bureau).