DETROIT -- A theme has developed in the past two games of this Western Conference Quarterfinal Series between the Anaheim Ducks and the Detroit Red Wings.
Or has it?
In each of the past two contests, the Ducks have rattled off three unanswered goals in the third period. Once, it was to erase a 4-1 deficit and force overtime. The next time, it was to turn a 1-0 advantage into a misleading rout.
The results had members of the media quizzing Red Wings players and coach Mike Babcock about a potential issue developing. Babcock was adamant these were two separate incidents, and shouldn't be lumped together.
"I think we went away from the structure a little bit [in both]," Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "In Game 2 we were up 4-1, and we sat back a little too much. They start scoring and we sat back even a little bit more. [Game 3], I think after they scored that second one shorthanded, I think we had to open up too much to try and get the next goal, but they got the third one before we did."
Anaheim did outscore its opponents 46-36 in the third period during the regular season, but maybe more telling was the team's ability to protect leads and also erase them. The Ducks were 17-0-2 when leading after two periods (and 12-0-3 when leading at the first intermission).
They were also able to rally five times to win when trailing after two periods, which tied for the League lead.
"I think they're in good shape, quite frankly. They work pretty hard," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said of his players. "We've made a point right from the beginning of wanting to be a good third-period club. So far, it has worked out that way, but it can change on a dime as well. I think it is something they take a lot of pride in."