ANAHEIM, California – The Anaheim Ducks have drawn first blood.
Corey Perry broke a 2-2 tie with 6:39 to play and Ryan Getzlaf added a power-play goal late as the Ducks defeated the Jets 4-2 in Game 1 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series Thursday night at Honda Center.
Adam Lowry and Drew Stafford scored for the Jets, while Ondrej Pavelec posted 29 saves in a losing effort.
Perry scored twice in the third period as the Ducks rallied back from a 2-1 deficit. His winner at 13:21 was the result of a beautiful drive to the net.
The play was initially called no goal on the ice. However, at the next stoppage in play, a lengthy video review determined the puck had, indeed, crossed the line, despite the nearly game-saving effort by Pavelec.
Perry finished with four points and a game-high six shots on goal.
“In some ways it’s less devastating than some of the losses we faced two or three weeks ago,” Head Coach Paul Maurice said. “We weren’t figuring this would be 16-0 or 4-0. They’re a good team. Their first game at home, we expected the best out of them. There was a lot more good in our game than the final result may (indicate). … There’s not an effort issue in this game. This was a hard played, good battle game. I liked us through two periods. Their push is coming at some point and we didn’t get enough pucks to the net in that big block in the third period to get some momentum back.”
Sami Vatanen opened the scoring at 1:57, but the early lead didn’t last. Just 49 seconds later, Lowry levelled the count, erupting the mass of traveling Jets. Jacob Trouba delivered the pass and No. 17 made no mistake, skilfully redirecting the puck past Frederik Andersen for the monumental marker.
The Jets are nothing if not resilient.
The rookie was at it again moments later, feeding a shot into the pads of the goaltender as he barrelled his way in off the rush, but a hard-charging Lee Stempniak was emphatically turned away on the rebound.
“It’s pretty special to score your first goal in the playoffs and to score the first goal for the Jets, but I’d trade it for a win,” Lowry said.
“There are some positives we can take away from this game. We had some great chances in the second period that could have put this game away.”
On and on, the pace (and physicality) quickened – a brisk adjustment for the youthful Jets, many of whom were playing in the first-career playoff game.
But they didn’t back down. No, sir. The key now, Stafford says, is limiting the “extracurricular stuff.”
“It was a tough, hard-fought battle. We got a little bit of penalty trouble and it’s something that for the next game, we continue to bring that physical battle and make sure it’s between the whistles,” he said. “We don’t want to give their skilled guys an extra chance like we did. We have to regroup and make sure that we bring that physical play [into Game 2].”
Shots on goal favoured the Ducks 9-8 after 20 minutes of play, but the Jets finished the period on a 6-3 run in the final 15 minutes.
The visitors took a 2-1 lead at the five-minute mark of the second as Stafford scored his fourth-career playoff goal. Racing in 3-on-2 with Blake Wheeler driving the middle, the talented marksman rifled a shot stick side on Andersen, silencing the surly, orange-clad crowd, with help from the ultimate setup man, Mark Scheifele.
“I thought we had a push in the second period,” Stafford said. “We had two or three glorious chances to make it 3-1, 4-1. Unfortunately, we didn’t capitalize. I think we sat back a little bit in the third period and started watching.”
The Ducks took over in the latter half of the period, but Pavelec stood tall. Among many of the mighty variety, the 27-year-old made an exceptional save off Ryan Getzlaf late, gloving the captain’s attempt in tight to preserve the one-goal lead.
Until the intermission passed, that is.
On a power-play chance early in the third, the home side struck to tie it up 2-2. Parked at the doorstep, Corey Perry was the beneficiary of a scramble in the blue paint, chipping a shot into the empty cage after a pinball-like bounce flushed Pavelec to the opposite side.
Getzlaf added the insurance marker at 16:55, whipping a shot through a maze to put the Ducks up by two.
“Not a whole lot (went wrong),” Maurice said. “I was really pleased with our start. The pace was good and most importantly, our execution was good. I liked a lot of the game. We had some good rush chances in the second period. Looking back, it had to go to 3-1 at that point in time.
“The result [was not because] of not a lot of miscues in the third period, but some events.”
— Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com