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Ducks' third line plays major role in Game 1

by Curtis Zupke /

ANAHEIM -- It's usually forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry who are surrounded by huge postgame media scrums, but the scene was quite different in the Anaheim Ducks' dressing room after a 4-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final at Honda Center on Sunday.

In one corner, there was forward Kyle Palmieri, who hadn't scored in more than six weeks. Across from him was forward Nate Thompson, who missed the first round because of an injury. In between them was Andrew Cogliano, the iron-man forward with a tenacious forecheck.

They comprise Anaheim's third line, which combined for two goals and two assists Sunday. It was a rare occurrence in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when Anaheim won without major contributions from Getzlaf or Perry, who appeared on the score sheet in the form of Getzlaf's empty-net assist at 18:42 of the third period.

"This is a time where everyone's got to play big in a way, and everyone's got to do their job," Cogliano said. "We can't rely on the big guys to score every goal. I think we were looking to create some depth scoring, and you get two goals from (Palmieri) and (Thompson), and that's the difference."

Getzlaf and Perry each matched Ducks records with four-point games in Game 1 of the first and second rounds, but Anaheim veered from script. Palmieri's game-winning goal was his first goal since March 28 after he put in Cogliano's rebound at 4:17 of the second period.

"It felt good," Palmieri said. "Looking back at the first two rounds, I was maybe thinking and playing a little too safe … it's good to play safe and you obviously have to make the simple plays, but it was kind of me slowing myself down a little bit and tonight with the pace of the game, it was nice to get that one and, for our line especially we had a good game but we've got to continue to do that."

Thompson finished a rush when he tapped in Cogliano's rebound at 12:05 of the third for a 3-1 lead. His two points were a career high in the playoffs.

"It was a big game for us," Thompson said. "I thought we were good getting in on the forecheck, creating turnovers in the neutral zone, just doing a lot of good little things and whenever you're doing good little things, usually you create offense."

Thompson missed the first round because of an upper-body injury sustained during the regular-season finale. The Ducks filled in with Tomas Fleischmann and Chris Wagner.

"It was tough to watch," Thompson said. "I'm not a good watcher. I was pacing every game. I didn't sit down, I think, the whole first round, but I was itching to get back."

The Thompson line gives Chicago something else to worry about for Game 2 on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). Cogliano was asked if the lesser-known names should be hyped up more.

"Yeah, start talking about (Palmieri) and (Thompson) and (Jakob Silfverberg)," he said. "But they've upped their games this year and we need that to continue. (The Blackhawks) have four lines that play, and three really skilled lines that can score at any time, so it needs to be guys like myself and guys in the lower end of the lineup that need to play like we can."

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