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Ducks get better preseason production from top line

by Corey Masisak
HELSINKI -- Anaheim's "Big Three" is maybe the best line in hockey, but forgive coach Randy Carlyle if he was a bit nervous about the trio during this preseason.

Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan combined for 103 goals and 245 points last season -- that's three points per contest, even though Getzlaf missed 15 of them with a head injury. This preseason Anaheim's top line had combined for just 7 points (4 goals) in the five games they played in.

Making it worse, they were a combined minus-18 and weren't contributing much on the power play to offset the imbalance at even strength.

"[Carlyle] had a little talk with us today," Perry said after the Ducks defeated Jokerit HC Oyj 4-3 in overtime Tuesday at Hartwall Areena. "He just wants more from us. We haven't done a whole lot in this preseason. We've been fighting the puck a little bit. He talked to us about getting back to basics and doing the things that we normally do that helped us last year and the years before."

The message was received. Perry led the way with 2 goals and an assist, while Getzlaf had the game-winning tally in the extra session and an assist. Ryan set up Cam Fowler's goal at the end of the second period.

They combined for 6 points and were in on every goal Anaheim scored in a 4-3 victory. That was more like what Carlyle expects.

"We've had a conversation with those three that we needed more coming Friday night, and it wasn't a situation where you could just turn the switch on and say, 'I'm going to be ready,' -- that they had to prove to us that they could go out and play at that high level and they did that tonight," Carlyle said.

"They were on the ice for the tying goal, so it is not all good, but when you have those big guys -- and you saw the skill set of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan -- they can control the puck and can be very hard people to defend. I think some of the situations prior to tonight, they haven't really taken the puck to the net or chose the right situations to take the puck to the net as we're accustomed to.

"It is always a little worrying for a coach preparing your club for the season and you want your big guys firing on all cylinders."

Perry earned League MVP honors last season and reached the 50-goal plateau for the first time. He showed off his scoring touch early against Jokerit, collecting a pass from Saku Koivu and flipping a backhanded shot past goaltender Eero Kilpelainen at 6:12 of the opening period.
He stationed himself at the edge of the crease during a Ducks power play and less than six minutes later it was a 2-0 advantage after Teemu Selanne put a pinpoint pass on his stick for an easy one-timer.

Perry very nearly had a natural hat trick -- his wrist shot from the left circle beat the Jokerit goaltender high to the far side, but the horn to signal the end of the period went off as he was releasing the puck.

After a dominant first period, the trio didn't control the contest with each shift but Ryan made a key play to help thwart Jokerit's momentum on the Fowler goal and Getzlaf made sure it was a good ending for Anaheim a little more than a minute into overtime.

"I thought we had a good start, but we kind of faded a bit and got away from our game plan," Perry said. "We found a way to win, and you can't complain about a win I guess.

"I think we need to manage the puck a little bit better. There were a few too many turnovers, and we got away from our game a little bit in the second period and we got trapped in the neutral zone some. We're a team that gets on the forecheck and cycles the puck, and when we do that not too many teams can handle us down low. I think we just need to get back to basics and we'll be alright."
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