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Kesler providing intangibles for Ducks

by Curtis Zupke /

ANAHEIM -- It was not breaking news that linemates Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry came up big for the Anaheim Ducks in a 4-2 Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round series against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.

The two have experience in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and now have Ryan Kesler as a teammate after years of having to play against him. Kessler won 16 of 21 faceoffs and drew a roughing that led to a power-play goal.

"He does so many of the little things that don't end up on the scoreboard that makes him valuable: plays hard against anybody, knows his position," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said Friday. "It's not all about goals and assists, but he's a really solid second-line center that can play against any team's top center."

Part of Winnipeg's game plan in Game 2 of the best-of-7 series on Saturday at Honda Center (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN, PRIME) is to get under Anaheim's skin, but Kesler is one of the NHL's best pests who knows when to back off, as was the case in goading in Mark Scheifele into an after-the-whistle jab.

"Punching in the head isn't allowed, so, you know," Kesler said. "[He] took a penalty and we capitalized on it.

"That was probably the best job I've seen us do all year handling an emotional game and really just keeping our emotions in check. We're going to need that. It's going to be an emotional series and we need to keep up with that."

Kesler and Perry previously only knew each other from numerous confrontations from when Kesler was with the Vancouver Canucks. Now, Kesler has learned more about his new teammate.

"Yeah, Corey's a good guy," Kesler said. "That's one thing I didn't know. He's a really good guy. This whole team, we’re a close group in here and it's a great locker room.

Ryan Kesler
Center - ANA
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 0 | +/-: -1
"I think over time we kind of got close. Go out for a couple of beers and talk about life in the past, right?"

Perry tied Joffrey Lupul and Andy McDonald for Anaheim's single-game playoff record with four points in Game 1, and Getzlaf had a goal and two assists.

"They're great players, so you can't be surprised when they do generate some offense in the course of the game, and they will make those plays that they make," Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said.

Despite the loss, Maurice liked a lot of what he saw in Game 1.

"I'm very, very comfortable with the volume of offense that we gave up in the game."

Anaheim's line rushes Friday did not indicate any lineup changes. Goalie John Gibson and center Nate Thompson are not skating because of upper-body injuries.

Center Chris Wagner, 23, and right wing Tim Jackman, 33, were ecstatic to have played their first NHL playoff game. It was Wagner's 10th NHL game overall.

"That was probably one of the most comfortable games I felt since I've been up here [other than] maybe the [New York] Islanders game and that [Los Angeles] Kings game earlier in the year. My legs felt good and my whole body felt good. I felt pretty calm I guess, would be the word."

Jackman played 481 career regular season NHL games without appearing in the postseason.

"There was a lot of excitement," Jackman said. "It's kind of a big buildup throughout. We had three, four days of practice there, so everyone's waiting and it's finally here. You could hear the crowd in warm-ups. When we were getting ready to go out for warm-ups, the crowd was chanting and getting ready, you could feel the electricity and excitement in the building. I thought that when the national anthems were going on, I could just really feel that the crowd was already [into it] and all the orange. As soon as puck dropped, it was game on."

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