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Getzlaf's return sparks Ducks to blowout win

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- It wasn't all that long ago that Ryan Getzlaf admitted he struggled as captain of the Anaheim Ducks. He had difficulty balancing hockey and family life as a new father, and the result was one of the worst seasons of his career.

But those days are in the past.

During this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs, Getzlaf became a father for the third time and has been bloodied, scarred and stitched. Nothing has slowed him down; in fact, he's actually furthered his legacy as captain and solidified his Hart Trophy credentials after finishing as the NHL's No. 2 regular-season scorer.

Ryan Getzlaf
Center - ANA
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 7
SOG: 8 | +/-: 3
The latest example came Friday night when Getzlaf tied a postseason career-high with a three-point game in a 6-2 win against the Dallas Stars at Honda Center in Game 5 of their Western Conference First Round series. He scored a goal and set up two others after missing Game 4 with an undisclosed upper-body injury, likely the result of taking a slap shot in the face in the final stages of the series opener.

"He's a catalyst for the team - bottom line," center Andrew Cogliano said. "He creates another dimension that you can't insert in the lineup. When he's in, it forces our lines to be in the right position - guys playing in the right spots. When he's not, guys aren't really in the right spots, and I think it speaks to our team.

"I think he should be a strong nomination for the Hart Trophy. He's carried this team for a long time. It seems whenever he has a little injury or is dinged up, he plays his best hockey."

Cogliano joked that, "Hopefully, he keeps getting injured. It's tough for him, but it's better for us."

It was no joke at the start. Getzlaf's night did not begin out ideally. He committed an egregious giveaway that Jamie Benn turned into a shorthanded goal that tied it 1-1.

"Well, judging by my turnover to Benn - he put it in the back of our net -- obviously that's not what I'm looking for," Getzlaf said of getting into rhythm after sitting out Game 4. "But our guys did a good job rebounding on that, and as for my game, I thought it got better as the game went on, and I felt more and more comfortable."

It took Getzlaf less than six minutes to have an impact on the score sheet; he set up Nick Bonino from the right circle in the first period to open the scoring. Getzlaf's second assist was a perfectly threaded cross-ice pass to Mathieu Perreault that was just out of the reach of Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon and resulted in the third of a franchise-postseason record four power-play goals.

Getzlaf finished it off with a goal that was really a product of linemate Corey Perry, who dispossessed Dillon in the corner and fed Getzlaf for a one-timer and a 5-2 lead.

Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau has always had a good read on his players, and he felt comfortable enough to play Getzlaf a game-high 19:51 through two periods before Getzlaf rested the final 10 minutes.

By then, his impact had already been made.

"Every time you get your captain back, it's going to make you feel better," Boudreau said. "It's like your big brother is back. Guys felt a little more secure, and he came out and played a really great game as well as the other guys."

Getzlaf passed Teemu Selanne for No. 1 on the Ducks' all-time Stanley Cup Playoffs points with 66 but he doesn't expect that to last.

"He'll probably catch me tomorrow," Getzlaf joked. "With T, I don't think I'm ever going to have a lead in this organization until he actually steps away."

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