Like a freight train barreling down the tracks, Ryan Getzlaf was an unstoppable force. Using his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame, the Ducks captain delivered a dominating performance with a mix of physicality and skill to help his team erase a two-goal deficit and pull off a stunning 5-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center.
He had his fingerprints all over Anaheim's second, third and fourth goals of the game. With his team trailing by a goal, Getzlaf tied the game when he sent a perfectly placed wrist shot blocker-side past Avs goaltender Semyon Varlamov. His goal came just 1:15 after fellow veteran Corey Perry cut a two-goal deficit in half with a vintage sequence at the 6:08 mark of the second period.
Video: ANA@COL: Perry wrists one over Varlamov
Video: ANA@COL: Getzlaf pots wrist shot from the circle
Getzlaf was far from done. He factored in on Daniel Sprong's goal (Anaheim's third unanswered tally) by stretching out his arms to keep the play alive in the offensive zone. Knowing Sprong wouldn't be able to race down the puck cleanly, Getzlaf dove to poke the puck past Avs defenseman Erik Johnson to allow Sprong to gain possession behind the goal.
Video: ANA@COL: Sprong chips puck in through five-hole
Then, after the Avs tied it, 3-3, in the late stages of regulation, Getzlaf came through again. It came on the power play when Getzlaf, stationed at the halfwall, sent a crisp seam pass to Nick Ritchie backdoor. After Ritchie's shot hit the far post, Perry tapped it in to put the Ducks up for good. [Hampus Lindholm put the game away with an empty-net goal with 23 seconds left on the clock.] Getzlaf finished with a game-high three points (1g/2a).
Video: ANA@COL: Perry puts Ducks ahead in final minute
But it wasn't just about the offense. After taking a cross-checking penalty he didn't agree with in the late stages of the first period, Getzlaf made it a point to finish every one of his checks. He was in the middle of several skirmishes, and wasn't shy about voicing his opinions towards the Colorado bench. It was the Getzlaf that Ducks fans have come to admire over the course of his 14-year NHL career.
After a sluggish opening period, Getzlaf said he and his teammates made sure not to let it happen again in the middle frame. "We competed a little harder in the second period," he said. "Playing last night, and with travel, I thought we were a little flat. That's not an excuse. It's just reality. We did a good job rebounding and playing the game we wanted."
His incredible vision and playmaking has resulted in 13 consecutive 30-assist seasons, the longest such active streak in the NHL. He got his 30th assist of the 2018-19 campaign tonight when he sent a pass to Jaycob Megna, who was able to get his shot on goal that found its way to Sprong.
"Kudos to guys playing with me who are shooting the puck into the net," Getzlaf said with a laugh. "That's a part of my game that I take a lot of pride in. It's another step."
Tonight's win was an impressive bounce back performance given the circumstances. The Ducks weren't their best last night in a 6-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes, and while it could be argued that the final score wasn't indicative of the game, it was still a one-sided defeat. Furthermore, the Ducks didn't arrive to their Denver hotel until sometime between 2-3 a.m., losing an hour because of the time change in the process. The Avs, meanwhile, hadn't played since Monday. They were rested and in desperate need of points, as they entered the game five points out of a playoff spot.
But as is often the case, when the captain leads, the team follows, and that's what happened tonight in a 5-3 stunner. This marked the second victory over the Avs in a span of 12 days.
Video: ANA@COL: Lindholm seals win with empty-netter
"We've been trying to work on our game," said Getzlaf. "That's the biggest thing. We spent half the season battling against ourselves, basically. Now we're taking a lot more pride in the way we want to play and the way we want to build for next season."
The Ducks will return to Anaheim to open a three-game homestand beginning Sunday vs. Florida.