By AJ Manderichio
DALLAS - Fresh off their flight, the Anaheim Ducks hit the ice at American Airlines Center in Dallas for a full practice this afternoon. While the seats were empty and the building was quiet save for the noise on the ice, the Ducks know tomorrow’s Game 3 matchup will have plenty of energy.
“In the playoffs, playing at home, you can thrive off your fans and get a lot of energy for them,” defenseman Cam Fowler said. “We know that they’re going to be pumped up and ready to go. We need to be ready to meet their push.”
The Ducks enter tomorrow with a 2-0 series advantage thanks to two wins at Honda Center. Already down in the series, and returning to a building that hasn’t seen playoff hockey since 2008, Anaheim expects an improved performance from Dallas.
“The closer a team gets to elimination, the harder they’re going to play and the better they’re going to play,” center Nick Bonino said. “If we want to get a three-game series lead, we have to play hard and better than we did last game.”
The Ducks protected home ice with a 3-2 win in Game 2; a win that came with its fair share of tense moments. After allowing the first goal, Anaheim scored three times to carry a 3-1 lead in the third period. Ryan Garbutt would bring Dallas within one, and it took a stellar defensive effort with less than a minute remaining in regulation to ice the win.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau wants to see his team put forth a complete game tomorrow.
“We need to be better than we were the first 10 minutes and the last 20 [minutes of Game 2],” he said. “If we can play the way we did the last 10 minutes of the first and the second period, I think we’ll be in the game. They came at us pretty good and we made a lot of unforced errors. That’s a lot of the stuff we worked on today.”
One of the areas the team discussed is discipline. Through two games, the Ducks have been whistled for 11 minor penalties, surpassing their season average. In what is expected to be a loud building tomorrow night, Boudreau wants his team to stay mindful on the ice.
“We need to be in control,” he said, “because they’ll be pretty ramped up.”
Emerson Etem joined the team in Dallas after being recalled from the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League. Etem, who recorded 11 points (7g/4a) in 29 games, knows what the coaches expect.
“I think I know what [Boudreau] wants from me,” he said. “That’s energy, being first on the forecheck and providing energy for the guys.”
Etem was a key contributor in Norfolk, helping the Admirals secure a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs against the Manchester Monarchs. In 50 games, Etem collected 54 points (24g/30a) and led all active skaters in goals, points and assists.
It’s that performance he hopes to carry over into the Ducks lineup.
“Offensively, I built a lot more confidence and hopefully I’ll take it into these playoffs,” he said.
Etem skated in all seven games of last year’s playoff series with the Detroit Red Wings, finishing tied for the team lead in goals (3) and tied for second in points (5).