By Kyle Shohara
If there is ever a time to take advantage of home ice, it’ll be this evening as the Ducks and Stars clash in a pivotal Game 2 at Honda Center.
The Ducks can take a 2-0 series lead with a victory tonight before heading to Dallas for Games 3 and 4 in a building that has haunted them over the years.
Expected in the lineup tonight is captain Ryan Getzlaf, two days removed from taking a puck to the face in the closing moments of Game 1. His presence will be a huge plus for the Ducks, and should provide an emotional lift for his teammates. Getzlaf and his wife, Paige, celebrated the birth of their third child, daughter Willa, born at 12:36 a.m.
“He's playing, but as you know by now, he had a baby girl last night,” said coach Bruce Boudreau. “He opted to take the morning off to get some rest, so I said yes."
Matt Beleskey, who left Wednesday’s game with a lower-body injury, will not be playing tonight, as confirmed by Boudreau. Yesterday, Beleskey said it’s an injury that’s been lingering throughout the season, and one that’ll be evaluated on a day-to-day basis.
Beleskey will be replaced by Devante Smith-Pelly, who skated alongside Corey Perry on the top line. “He was Norfolk’s best player,” said Boudreau, on Smith-Pelly’s time in the American Hockey League. “And in the three games he's played for us, he's been very good. He's been a difference maker in the last two games. He’s a big-bodied guy who’s just another power forward in the making. I think he's going to be a good player.”
Smith-Pelly will make his Stanley Cup Playoff debut tonight, and says his game plan is all about simplicity. “I just need to go up and down the wing, be physical and responsible in my own end,” he said.
Having Smith-Pelly as a viable top-line option is a testament to the team’s depth, and he says there shouldn’t be any adjustment period playing with Getzlaf and Perry.
“Guys are used to playing with different guys every other night,” he said. “I know how they play, and it’s pretty simple. Those guys make the plays, and I go to the net.”
ANDERSEN TO START?
Fresh off a Game 1 victory in his postseason debut, Frederik Andersen was first off the ice this morning.
Andersen stopped 32-of-35 shots in the win, becoming the youngest goaltender in Ducks history to appear in a postseason game at 24 years and 196 days, and the third rookie goaltender in club history to play in a playoff game (Tom Askey, 1999; Ilya Bryzgalov, 2006). In addition, the 24-year-old became the first rookie goaltender to win his playoff debut.
DUCKS-STARS GAME 1 RECAP
The Ducks opened their 2014 Stanley Cup Playoff First Round series against the Stars with a 4-3 victory before 17,294 at Honda Center. Anaheim won its second consecutive playoff series opener and improved to 11-9 in all-time Game 1s.
Ryan Getzlaf (1-1=2), Matt Beleskey (1-1=2) and Francois Beauchemin (0-2=2) co-led the team in scoring, as Getzlaf recorded his 19th career multi-point game, Beleskey posted his first career multi-point game and Beauchemin passed Rob Niedermayer for seventh in all-time playoff points as a Duck (28). Kyle Palmieri and Mathieu Perreault also scored for Anaheim, which had nine players on the scoresheet.