By Adam Brady
As if we needed further indication of the magnitude of Corey Perry
's tying goal in the waning moments of regulation last night, it was certainly demonstrated in his celebration afterward.
As soon as Perry punched a loose puck into the wide open left half of the net with 5.1 seconds left, to dramatically tie the game with Florida, Perry looked to the heavens as he held up both arms and fell on his back before being mobbed by teammates.
The dramatic gesture signified the relief of the struggling Ducks drawing even in a game they seemed poised to lose. But for Perry himself, it was the liberation of breaking a puzzling and frustrating scoring drought that was unprecedented for him in his 10-year NHL career.
Before that moment, Perry had failed to score a goal in any of his first 11 games of the season, a stunning dry spell for a guy who once scored 50 in a season and had 33 in just 67 games last year. Perry isn’t used to slow starts either, as he had nine goals in his first eight games of 2014-15, including two hat tricks.
“It’s been a work in progress, for sure,” said a typically subdued Perry after today’s afternoon practice at Honda Center. “You hope that at one point, one will bounce off you and go in. Last night, it was back door and a wide open net. Those are the things you need to happen, but when you work at it, the more bounces you’re gonna get.
“It just felt good. Hopefully there are more to come.”
It’s not like Perry is the only one to go cold in a baffling 1-7-2 start for the Ducks that has been temporarily mended with back-to-back home wins (including last night’s eventual 3-2 shootout victory over the Panthers). When linemate Ryan Getzlaf returns soon after missing the last four games with an appendicitis, he will also be looking for his first goal of the season (he has one assist). Fellow superstar Ryan Kesler is also without a goal, but he assisted on Perry’s last night – creating a chance when his hard one-timer deflected off a Florida player – for just his third point of the campaign.
|“I don’t know what happened there,” Perry said with a slight chuckle. “That was just relief. I didn’t really think anything of it. It just happened.” |
“I think Kes probably said it best, that it took a lot of weight off his shoulders too,” Perry laughed. “We knew that once one guy broke it open, hopefully it could open up for everybody else.”
And what exactly was going through his head during that celebration?
“I don’t know what happened there,” Perry said with a slight chuckle. “That was just relief. I didn’t really think anything of it. It just happened.”
Perry insists that as the scoreless games piled on top of each other, he never lost faith. “If you’re still getting opportunities and chances, you’re creating with your linemates shift after shift, it’s bound to come,” said the 2010 Hart Trophy winner. “Personally, from the quality chances I had, you could tell it was on the upswing.”
It’s no coincidence his struggles have coincided with those of the team, which endured a winless five-game road swing before winning the last two in Anaheim. But it was during that trip Perry could see the team’s play pick up, even if it didn’t reflect on the scoreboard or the standings.
“I thought we’ve done that since halfway through that road trip, probably the Chicago game where we started to turn things around,” Perry said of a crushing 1-0 overtime loss to the Blackhawks in which Anaheim played a very strong game. “It was one of my best games personally, but it just didn’t go in. I knew it was starting to come. I could start to feel it. It definitely is frustrating, but you’ve got to stick with it.”
As the Ducks appeared headed for another disappointing loss with the clock winding down Weddnesdaynight, they were just hoping for a goal, no matter who scored it. The fact that it was Perry was an added bonus.
“You could tell it was a definitely relief off him,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. “It was actually just as big a relief for Kes to get the helper on it. Hopefully that grows into something positive for both of them.”