ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf stood by the bench door and waited for all of his teammates to leave the ice, one-by-one, until he was the last player.
It was somewhat symbolic.
Anaheim often goes the way Getzlaf goes, and his start to Game 7 of the Western Conference Final was indicative of another disappointing exit by the Ducks.
Getzlaf was outplayed by Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who scored twice in the opening 12 minutes to lead his team to a 5-3 win at Honda Center. Getzlaf had a good look at Toews because he was on the ice each time and was matched up against him.
It was the second straight disappointing game by Getzlaf, who was on the ice for six of Chicago's nine goals in a span from Game 6 to Game 7.
"I'm not going to say I played great," Getzlaf said. "I didn't play good enough to win. I'm still standing here having this talk. But I felt better as a whole. I felt more prepared for the game, to do what I needed to do and get going after, obviously, they scored our first shift."
Getzlaf took responsibility for a poor showing in Game 6 and recognized that his response as captain in Game 7 would be important; it would at least be seen as part of his legacy. But he struggled against Toews in what was a curious matchup decision by Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau, who at one point broke up Getzlaf and linemate Corey Perry.
"You know what, it's a hard question to answer," Boudreau said about why the matchup didn't work. "You're looking for me to say one guy is better than another guy. That's not the case. All I know is Ryan Getzlaf played for us very hard, and he is a great captain. He's the first one that's going to be wishing that things had turned out a little bit different because he was ready to play, and he played his [butt] off or his heart out, whatever you want to call it. It didn't work in his favor today."
Getzlaf knows Toews; they were teammates with Canada in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and 2014 Sochi Olympics, winning gold medals in each. Toews' clutch play didn't surprise Getzlaf, and it happened to come while Chicago was getting Anaheim flustered.
"[Toews is] a big-time player," Getzlaf said. "I expected nothing else from him. He came out and executed early. We tried to match lines and do all those things and it just didn't work. We spent the first period again, changing, rolling out of the door, those kinds of things where you're distracted from the game and not starting the way you want to."
The frustration was evident in Getzlaf's voice but he was very much composed, just as he's been all season. Perhaps the most telling sound bite was the few seconds of silence that followed after he was asked if Chicago was the better team.
"No," Getzlaf said. "I think that they played better than us tonight. I'm not telling you that they're a better team than us. I'm telling you that they played better than us tonight. They played good enough to win."