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Ducks Power Past Stars, Take 3-2 Series Lead

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars will head home with their backs to the wall in their first round playoff series with the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks defeated the Stars, 6-2, Friday night at Honda Center to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

“Every time we’ve bumped up against adversity we’ve answered the call,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We got down 0-2 [in this series], we answered the call. We’ve lost this game, we’ve got to answer the call. It’s our turn to come with our answer to this game.”

Game 6 is Sunday night at American Airlines Center, where the Stars won Games 3 and 4 of the series.

“Now it’s our turn to go back in our barn,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “We are going to forget about this one and focus on the next one.”

Special teams fueled the Ducks’ victory Friday night. The Ducks scored four times on six power play chances, while the Stars were 0-7.

“It’s tough. We lost the special teams battle which was the difference tonight,” Ruff said.

The Stars were within one goal, down just 3-2, heading into the third period, but the Ducks blew the game open with three goals in a 5:52 span early in the third period.

Jamie Benn and Shawn Horcoff scored for the Stars. Kari Lehtonen started in goal, gave up five goals on 21 shots and was pulled early in the third period. Tim Thomas played the rest of the way, allowing one goal on two shots.

The Stars lost Ryan Garbutt midway through the first period after he was given a five minute major penalty and a game misconduct for spearing.

Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who missed Game 4, returned and scored one goal and assisted on two others.

“Every time you get your captain back, it’s going to make you feel better,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. “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.”

“I thought I got better as the game went on. I felt more and more comfortable,” said Getzlaf. “The crowd was unbelievable. Everything was fired right up. They give us so much energy when we come out and have that kind of support with us.”

Corey Perry also had one goal and two assists. Goaltender Frederik Andersen bounced back from a rough Game 4 and stopped 34 of 36 shots.

“He made the saves he had to make at the right time,” said Boudreau. “When they were pushing and it was 2-1 or 3-2, he stood tall. That’s what good goalies do. I’m happy for him that he was able to come back in a tough atmosphere and do what he did.”

The Ducks went on the game’s first power play a little more than four minutes into the game when Antoine Roussel was called for interference, and cashed into take the early lead. Getzlaf set up Nick Bonino in the right circle and Bonino slipped around Stars defenseman Jordie Benn and fired the puck past Lehtonen to make it a 1-0 game at 5:32 of the first period.

The Ducks went on a five-minute power play at 9:11 of the first when Garbutt was given a major penalty and a game misconduct for spearing Perry.

“I was going back to the bench and I got careless with my stick,” Garbutt said. “It was definitely something I didn’t want to do, and put the team in that position. I am definitely going to learn from it.”

The Stars came out of it even. They scored shorthanded to tie the game when Jamie Benn stole the puck from Getzlaf in the Anaheim zone, broke in on net and backhanded the puck by Andersen to make it a 1-1 game at 10:00 of the first.

But just 26 seconds later the Ducks were back on top when a Francois Beauchemin shot was deflected into the net by center Rickard Rakell.

The Ducks opened the second period with 1:56 of power play time after a questionable goaltender interference call on Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski, and they cashed in again to extend their lead to 3-1. After a Cody Eakin shorthanded bid missed the net, the Ducks had numbers going the other way and Getzlaf set up Mathieu Perreault, who scored from close range off the rush at 1:05 of the second.

After that, the Stars controlled play for a good part of the second period. They cut the lead to 3-2 at 8:19 of the second when Vernon Fiddler shot the puck on net from the left point and Horcoff put the rebound past Andersen.

But the Ducks rattled off three goals in less than six minutes early in the third to blow the game open and chase Lehtonen from the net.

“We felt like we had the momentum after the second period,” Horcoff said, “but we gave up that first one and it put us on our heels and when they got that second one it deflated the bench a bit.”

Andrew Cogliano sent the puck from behind the goal line to Jakob Silfverberg, who scored from close range to make it a 4-2 game at the 1:07 mark of the third period.

The Ducks made it a 5-2 game at the 4:30 mark when Perry knocked Brenden Dillon off the puck in the corner and centered it to Getzlaf, who scored from the slot.

Lehtonen came out of the game a short time later and was replaced by Thomas.

“It’s huge for us,” Cogliano said of Anaheim’s start to the third. “Tonight, to get a big goal to start the period and get Lehtonen out of the net was a big confidence boost for us. It was a picture-perfect third period for us.”

The Ducks scored another power play goal a short time later when Perry was wide open at the bottom of the left circle, Thomas went for a poke check, missed and Perry put the puck into the open net to give Anaheim a 6-2 lead with at the 6:49 mark.

That ended the scoring for the night and pushed the Stars to a must-win situation Sunday in Dallas, where they’ll need a win to force a Game 7 in Anaheim.

“We’re going to have to go home now and win a game,” said Horcoff. “We feel like we are getting closer in this building and we want another chance here.”

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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