By Kyle Shohara
WINNIPEG – Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen made it perfectly clear in his post-practice quotes yesterday at MTS Centre. When asked about his thoughts leading into tonight’s Game 4, one in which the Ducks can eliminate the Jets and move on to the Second Round with a victory, the Danish netminder said it’s time to go for the kill.
“You've got a team on its heels and we have our foot right on the throat where we want it," he said. “We've just got to finish them off. We don't want to give them any hope.”
Andersen has certainly done his part. The 6-3, 236-pound netminder hasn’t allowed a goal in the third period in the series, and made a huge stop on Bryan Little with 61 seconds remaining in a 4-4 game in Game 3. Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau recalled the fourth-to-last game of the season when Andersen took it upon himself to make sure Boudreau knew who to run with.
“He knew he was going to be the guy,” said Boudreau. “He just wanted it. Not to say John [Gibson] didn’t want it, but in a year’s difference, you could tell outwardly he wanted the ball. He wants it. I don’t know if, in the past, it was as adamant. You know he wants to be the guy.”
Speaking of Gibson, Boudreau says he’s within a week of returning as a backup. Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during practice on April 10, but took part in his first extended practice yesterday. “He said he’s fine to go, and we anticipate he’s good to go,” Boudreau says, “but he’s not backing up tonight.”
Boudreau also confirmed no changes to tonight’s lineup. Below are the expected line combinations:
Patrick Maroon-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey-Ryan Kesler-Jakob Silfverberg
Andrew Cogliano-Rickard Rakell-Kyle Palmieri
Emerson Etem-Tomas Fleischmann-Tim Jackman
Hampus Lindholm-Francois Beauchemin
Cam Fowler-Simon Despres
Clayton Stoner-Sami Vatanen
FINISHING OFF THE JETS
The Ducks need just one more win to punch their ticket to the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a matchup against either the Calgary Flames or Vancouver Canucks (Calgary leads that series 3-1). But earning a decisive victory against a team that faced must-win games for practically the last month of the regular season will be the hardest one of them all.
“It’s going to be much easier said than done,” said Andrew Cogliano, who had three assists in Game 3. “Their season is on the line. The fans were phenomenal last game. They really sparked their team early. We expect them to have the best game they’ve had all season, and the best game we’ve seen them play. We need to manage the game properly.
“It’s the hardest game. It’s cliché, but it really is,” said Cogliano. “The season is on the line for them. The series has been very even. Everyone could see that. We’ve scored big goals at the right time, and our special teams have been good, but it’s been very even. We want to finish them off. It’s going to be a battle.”
Boudreau says he hasn’t been in the driver’s seat of a 3-0 series lead since 2006 when he was head coach of the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, so this is unchartered waters as an NHL bench boss.
“We’re going to read the game,” he said. “We know the heart Winnipeg has, and what they had to deal with to get in. If we want to be successful, we’ll have to play our best game of the series. I can only anticipate [the atmosphere] is going to be the exact same, if not just a little louder. We made it through [Game 3] so I’m assuming we’ll make it through tonight.”
Boudreau and his Bears squad ended up sweeping the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the East Division Final, “but that was the American league,” he said with a smile.