ANAHEIM, California – The Winnipeg Jets have sparred with adversity all season. They’re now about to face their biggest test of all.
Jakob Silfverberg scored with 21 seconds left in the third period as the Anaheim Ducks defeated the Jets 2-1 on Saturday night at Honda Center.
Challenging the defending forward, Bryan Little, Silfverberg curled to the lower left circle before rifling a shot past Ondrej Pavelec on the stick side.
Adam Pardy, who drew back into the lineup tonight in favour of Ben Chiarot, scored the lone goal for the Jets, while Pavelec made 37 saves in a losing effort.
The Ducks now lead the Western Conference First Round series 2-0.
The action now shifts to Winnipeg and what should be an electric MTS Centre for Games 3 and 4.
“I don’t know if it’s any one thing,” Pardy said, explaining the second consecutive loss after leading in the third period. “It’s the way the game goes. They were down one (goal) so they made a big push. … They’re a good team and they know how to win games. Just look at their record. We knew they were going to come and push like that. We’ve got to find a way to be able to shut it down in the third. We’ve got to keep pushing and try to get that second goal.”
The Ducks feasted on that scenario all year, setting a single-season record with 18 wins when trailing at any point in the third period.
“We put them on the power-play in the third. We’ve got to be smarter than that,” Pavelec said. “It’s always tough to lose. It doesn’t matter how well you play. But it’s not over. It’s 2-0 and we’re going back home to try and tie the series.”
After recording a combined 83 hits in Game 1, Game 2 was every bit the physical affair many anticipated. Bodies were flying right from the opening faceoff and by the five-minute mark of the opening period, the teams were already on pace to smash their previous tally, registering 14 checks in the first 4:57.
The physical play slowed – albeit marginally – as the game ended with 81 hits.
Back-to-back high-sticking penalties (Pardy at 5:18 and Tyler Myers at 6:55) put the Jets in a hole early on. The extended Ducks power-play, which included 23 seconds of 5-on-3, produced eight shots and a number of high-quality scoring chances, but Pavelec stood tall, preserving the scoreless tie.
With Ryan Kesler off serving a penalty for checking to the head late in the period, Jacob Trouba and Dustin Byfuglien – seconds apart – put shots off the goalpost.
Shots on goal favoured the Ducks 17-9 after a penalty-filled opening frame.
“I thought they came out strong,” Head Coach Paul Maurice said. “We had a couple of big kills, but were behind it a bit for the first 10 minutes. It evened out a little bit and in the second period, we had more of the sustained offensive zone time that we haven’t had much of, so I didn’t mind our game.”
Patrick Maroon was sprung on a breakaway early in the second, but his backhand try was denied. Moments later, Hampus Lindholm was gifted a clear lane to the net, but his wrister hit flat off the blocker-side goalpost.
Pardy opened the scoring with his first-career playoff goal at 15:43 of the second period. Following a ridiculous dangle around Kyle Palmieri at the blue line, Pardy then worked his way down low before wrapping the puck off Andersen’s skate and in for the emotional icebreaker.
The celebration (after-Pardy?) that followed was almost better than the goal itself as all five Jets piled on top of each other in the neutral zone.
The goal was Pardy’s first as a Jet and his first overall since Jan. 27, 2011, ending a 172-game drought.
"It's good, but not that good," Pardy said. "I'd rather have the win."
The Jets had a chance to extend the lead early in the third but Ducks defenceman Clayton Stoner saved a goal with a beautiful defensive play, swatting away a loose puck as Stempniak stared down an empty net.
That play came back to haunt the Jets midway through the third as the Ducks brought the game back on even terms. With Andrew Ladd off for high-sticking, Maroon – battling for position in front – deflected Cam Fowler’s point shot top shelf on Pavelec.
“We weren’t quite as strong with the puck as we needed to be in a couple areas and it led to some problems for us,” Maurice said.
The Ducks outshot the Jets 16-8 in the third before Silfverberg netted the winner. The dagger.
“There are no moral victories, but you’ve got to win four games,” Blake Wheeler said. “I liked our game. I really did. They didn’t have much out there. There wasn’t really much for either side, but we’ll look back on that.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere back at home. Our fans are excited to embrace this and we’re excited to get back in front of our home crowd and hopefully have some fun with it.”
LATE HITS: Mathieu Perreault returned to the lineup tonight after missing two games with a lower-body injury. Matt Halischuk came out as a result. Perreault had one assist, two hits and two shots on goal in 14:04 of ice time.