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Kesler, Perry help Ducks eliminate Jets

by Patrick Williams / NHL.com

WINNIPEG -- The Anaheim Ducks made their first statement of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and some needed time to rest will be their reward.

The Ducks completed a sweep of the Winnipeg Jets with a 5-2 win in Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round series at MTS Centre on Wednesday.

Two third-period goals from Ducks center Ryan Kesler fended off a late push from the Jets. Anaheim will play the winner of the best-of-7 series between the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks; Calgary leads the series 3-1.

"We knew it was going to be a real battle," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I never expected it to be 4-0, quite frankly, in my wildest dreams."

The Ducks will rest at home and prepare for the second-round series.

"We've got the bruises to prove it," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said of the physical series with the Jets. "It's nice to have that little rest."

Eight Winnipeg players made their playoff debuts, and the Jets could not counter Anaheim's experience.

"Anaheim was better than we were in this series," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "Those [first] three games were close. There's luck in a game maybe in the series, but over a potential seven-game series, the best team almost always wins, and they were better than we were."

Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen made 25 saves. Ondrej Pavelec made 30 saves for the Jets.

Anaheim had a 2-1 lead after the second period. Kesler scored 6:41 into the third period before Jets defenseman Mark Stuart's first NHL playoff goal narrowed Anaheim's lead to 3-2 with 9:33 left in the game.

But Kesler's third goal of the series, a one-timer on a pass from Jakob Silfverberg with 4:49 remaining put the Ducks ahead by two goals. Defenseman Sami Vatanen scored an empty-net goal with 27 seconds left.

The Ducks came from behind in all four games, including in the third period in each of the first three games. Anaheim outscored Winnipeg 9-1 in the third period in the series.

"[We knew] that we had to push," Kesler said. "We can't sit back. We can't be on our heels. We've got to be on our toes. That was the talk in the [dressing] room. We knew it was going to be [the Jets'] best period, and it was definitely one of our best periods."

Winnipeg has never won a playoff game in its history. They were swept by the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in 2007, when the franchise was known as the Atlanta Thrashers.

"There's a fine line between winning and losing in the playoffs," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said. "They're a team that went through those ups and downs last [season] and probably learned from that. So I think we take the experience we got this time, learn from it and next time we're in this situation, we'll handle it better."

Bryan Little's power-play goal with 3:34 left in the first period gave the Jets a 1-0 lead. Ducks forward Emerson Etem tied the game 1:26 later. Andrew Cogliano gave Anaheim a 2-1 lead at 12:55 of the second period.

Anaheim swept Winnipeg in part because of a well-balanced offensive attack that allowed Boudreau to use four lines. Corey Perry had two assists for the Ducks and seven points (three goals, four assists) in the series. Silfverberg finished with two goals and three assists. Getzlaf had a goal and three assists.

"Good teams, they have to get scoring not just from their top line, but from all four lines, and we did tonight," said Kesler, who had three goals and two assists in the series. "We're going to need that the rest of the way."

Kesler played two seasons in Winnipeg with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League as a Vancouver prospect.

Kesler tormented the Jets throughout the series, drawing penalties and solidifying the Ducks' second line. He teamed with Silfverberg to provide a dangerous second-line and center depth that the Jets could not match.

"There is a reason why [Ducks executive vice president and general manager] Bob [Murray] chased [Kesler last summer]," Boudreau said. "It wasn't a surprise what he was getting. He knew what he was getting."

Kesler's presence relieves some of the pressure on Getzlaf and Perry to carry Anaheim's offensive burden.

"It's a comforting feeling know that [Kesler] is there and is going to play that hard for us every night," Getzlaf said.

The Ducks and Jets combined for 80 hits in Game 4.

"I think we'll probably get a couple days off here and there, but we've got to keep working hard," Kesler said. "You've got to stay in game shape and get ready to compete in the next round.

"You can relish it tonight, but it's one series. We didn't come here to win one series. We came here for the whole thing. It's one step. We've got three more to go. So, we've got to focus on the steps."

The Ducks' repeated comebacks frustrated the Jets.

"They just seemed to kind of have answers for everything we did," Jets forward Blake Wheeler said. "It was kind of the same thing all series. It was like every time we gained an inch, they came back with two."

Maurice acknowledged that the Jets did not have a healthy lineup. He said Ladd sustained an injury 2 1/2 months ago that would have kept him out of the lineup for two months had he not played through it.

"We probably have eight significant injuries, four of those we brought into the series," Maurice said. "We had a number of guys that couldn't do parts of the games as well."

Stuart took away the positives from this season.

"It's disappointing," he said. "We didn't want this to end. We've got a really good thing going. The guys battled all [season] to get in, and we did some really good things. We just weren't able to get over the hump, but I'm proud of how everybody played. We battled until the end."

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