Dallas Stars: Anaheim Ducks

Ducks' rally tough for Stars to swallow

April, 27, 2014
Apr 27
11:51
PM CT

DALLAS -- This didn’t really have the makings of any sort of miracle on Texas ice for the Anaheim Ducks.

They were down two goals with a little more than two minutes left in Game 6 against the Dallas Stars, a deficit that had to seem much larger. The Stars had dictated play behind a raucous sellout crowd, and the Ducks had already replaced starting goalie Frederik Andersen with Jonas Hiller. Game 7 on Tuesday night was on everyone's calendars.

Then everything changed.

"I wasn't expecting it to happen," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said.

No one was, Bruce.

The first person Boudreau thanked for his team’s three-goal barrage in the final five minutes of game time -- two goals in the last 2:10 of regulation and the winner 2:47 into overtime that gave Anaheim the unlikely 5-4 win -- was Patrick Roy.

Roy? Yep. The Hall of Fame-goalie-turned-coach-of-the-Colorado Avalanche started pulling his netminder earlier than conventional hockey wisdom allowed this season and got results. Perhaps Roy’s way will become conventional wisdom. Boudreau is surely a convert now. When the Ducks found themselves down two goals with just under three minutes left, the coach was watching the ice and waiting for a chance to pull Hiller.

"I knew if we got one, then anything could happen," Boudreau said. "We’ve had a year that everything like this has happened to us. You’re always hopeful and you believe and you’re talking on the bench to believe, but deep down you don’t really think it’s going to happen."

But it did. Nick Bonino scored with 2:10 left in the game with the extra attacker on the ice. You could sense the Ducks bench getting lots of life from it.

"No one was done," Bonino said. "We felt we could come back, considering we have done it all year."

That was the key goal. Because it happened with so much time left, it gave the Ducks a chance to ready themselves for one last burst to tie it.

"It makes a heck of a difference when that happens," Boudreau said. "Two goals and you’re thinking, ‘Yeah, maybe we got a chance,’ and you talk about it, but I don’t know if there’s a lot of belief in it. But when he scored that goal and you looked up at the clock and there’s still two-plus minutes, you go, ‘Hey, we’ve still got an opportunity here.’ That’s when everybody started to get pretty excited, and they probably went, ‘Uh-oh, we better defend and defend,’ and I think we just kept coming and they were nervous about the whole situation."

It made the Ducks the aggressors again. Boudreau pulled Hiller again to put additional pressure on Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen. As the seconds ticked by with half a minute left, bodies started piling up in front of the net. Lehtonen’s stick slid by, ending up where he couldn’t reach it. The goalie tried to cover the net but couldn’t as the puck squirted to Devante Smith-Pelly, who flicked it high over a sprawled Lehtonen.

Tie game. The goal left the sellout crowd of more than 19,000 stunned. It zapped all of the momentum the Stars had worked so hard to obtain. All that was left for Stars coach Lindy Ruff was a pep talk before overtime.

"I told them what I’ve been telling them all year: Refocus. Get ready to play," Ruff said. "The room was upbeat. I told them, 'Pick your heads up and get ready to go.'"

But it was the Ducks who got the best chance early in overtime and buried it. The Stars looked a bit dazed as they skated to shake hands at center ice. Heck, the Ducks looked a little bewildered, too.

"It’s a tough one to swallow," said Stars defenseman Trevor Daley, who was two minutes away from earning the club’s cowboy hat for MVP of the game and joining his teammates for another flight out west. "We felt there were a good three games that we probably had opportunities to win. It wasn’t just tonight. You want to learn from it. We’ve got a young team. We’ve got to move forward."

Lehtonen talked to the media and then sat at his locker, not moving an inch with his pads still on, staring at nothing in particular. Perhaps he was replaying the final three goals that altered the series, hoping for another chance to skate and try to make a save.

For the Stars, Sunday’s late collapse means the season ends earlier than they wanted, though perhaps not earlier than many expected. That won’t make anyone in the organization feel any better for the next few days, maybe months.

"We had it right there at 4-2 with two minutes left, but it’s a cruel way," Ruff said. "Sometimes hockey is cruel. It was cruel, really cruel to a group of guys that worked as hard as they possibly could."

For the Ducks, the win means they put last year’s disappointment behind them. Then, they skated into Detroit with a 3-2 series lead and lost in overtime only to come back home for Game 7 and lose by a goal. It was an early exit after a solid regular season.

Dallas was a few minutes away from those doubts maybe getting into the heads of the Ducks as they prepared for a Game 7. Instead, Anaheim gets a dramatic victory it can use as a building block for a second-round series against Pacific Division rival Los Angeles or San Jose.

The Stars, meanwhile, must use their first playoff appearance in six seasons as a learning experience.

"That’s not the way you want to go through it," Daley said. "With two minutes there, you think you’re going back to Anaheim. But it’s a learning lesson. We learn from it. We learn as a team. There’s a lot of young guys on this team that will be back next year. The playoffs isn’t given to you. It’s tough to get in the playoffs. When you do get the chance, you’ve got to take advantage of it, and we feel like we blew a great opportunity."

The Ducks took advantage and move on in a most unexpected way. It might be a good time for Boudreau to send Roy a thank-you text.

Rapid Reaction: Ducks 5, Stars 4 OT

April, 27, 2014
Apr 27
10:25
PM CT

DALLAS -- The Anaheim Ducks are moving on to the second round of the playoffs after coming back to beat the Dallas Stars 5-4 in Game 6 in Dallas on Sunday.

How it happened: The Stars scored three goals in the first period to take control early. Dallas scored its first power-play goal since Game 2 and Ryan Garbutt's goal with 59 seconds left in the period gave the Stars a two-goal cushion. For the second straight game in Dallas, Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen watched the end from the bench. He was pulled midway through the second period (he was pulled in the third period of Game 4 in Dallas) and replaced by Jonas Hiller for the remainder of the game. Daley's second goal of the game, at 10:33 of the second period, put the Stars up by two goals for the second time. It stayed that way until Nick Bonino scored with Hiller on the bench in favor of an extra skater with 2:10 left in the game. Anaheim pulled Hiller again in the final minute and off a huge scrum in front of the Stars' net, goalie Kari Lehtonen lost his stick and moments later lost sight of the puck. Devante Smith-Pelly found it just outside the crease and floated it top shelf to tie the score with 22 seconds left.

What it means: Anaheim wins the series 4-2, scoring three unanswered goals to do it. The Ducks went through a goalie change, seemingly little momentum and a loud road crowd and found a way to get it done. It also avoids any thoughts of last season, when they lost to Detroit in Game 6 and then fell at home in Game 7 in the first round.

Players of the game: Jonas Hiller and Nick Bonino. He came in midway through the second period and didn't let anything by him. Despite a bunch of scoring chances and play going on in front of him, Hiller kept the Ducks within range, and they used late-third-period heroics to get the game to OT. Without Hiller's steady play in substitute duty, the Ducks aren't in the game to win it in overtime. Bonino scored the third goal of the game to get the Ducks within one and then deposited the winner in overtime.

Stat of the game: Three goals were scored in the final five minutes of the game by the Ducks to win it. The Ducks were relentless down the stretch. They pulled the goalie twice to score the tying goals, and then Anaheim got the one shot it needed to win the series.

What's next: Anaheim moves on to the second round and awaits the winner of the San Jose-Los Angeles series. The Sharks and Kings play Game 6 on Monday.

Ducks take care of business in Game 5

April, 26, 2014
Apr 26
2:37
AM CT


ANAHEIM -- The Anaheim Ducks didn’t get lured into bad behavior this time around.

They took the first blow from the Dallas Stars in Game 5 of their Western Conference quarterfinal Friday night -- or more accurately, the first spear from left wing Ryan Garbutt -- and paid the Stars back the best way they know how: scoring a franchise-record four power-play goals en route to a 6-2 victory at Honda Center, giving them a 3-2 series lead.

“It’s about maintaining our focus,” said Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf, who had a goal and two assists to tie his career high for playoff points. “When we got to Dallas last time, we got a little bit revved up and got into some things that weren’t part of our game. Tonight, we did a better job of focusing on what we need to do and we need to do that again next game.”

That would be Game 6 on Sunday in Dallas, where the Ducks have a chance to win just their second playoff series since capturing the Stanley Cup in 2007.

The Ducks not only dominated with their power play, but they also stonewalled all seven power-play situations for the Stars, including a full minute with a two-man disadvantage. Anaheim rookie goalie Frederik Andersen bounced back from two shaky performances in Games 3 and 4 in Dallas to stop 34 shots and give the Ducks time to sort things out on the offensive end.

“We expected that from Freddie,” Getzlaf said. “He wasn’t very impressed with himself after that Game 4 and I thought he did a great job as a young goalie.”

Ducks winger Corey Perry was the recipient of Garbutt’s jab to the midsection as Perry came on the ice and Garbutt went off during the first period, resulting in a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for Garbutt. Perry responded with a goal and two assists, which also matched his playoff career high. Perry set up Anaheim's fifth goal after he won the puck with a stiff forecheck and found Getzlaf alone in front of the net.

“Put the puck in the corner and put pressure on them,” Perry said. “That’s the way we want to play and that’s the way we’re successful as a team.”

The Ducks found the more they pressured the Stars, the more Dallas began to wilt.

“At the end of the day, if you sit back, they’re really bound to score at some point,” said Ducks center Andrew Cogliano, who took the puck from the Stars early in the third period and set up Jakob Silfverberg for a 4-2 lead that opened the floodgates. “But if you attack and keep them on their heels, not only are they defending but you have a good opportunity to score.”

And scoring fancy goals is exactly what Anaheim does best.

Rapid Reaction: Ducks 6, Stars 2

April, 26, 2014
Apr 26
1:32
AM CT


ANAHEIM -- Here's a quick look at the Anaheim Ducks' 6-2 win over the Dallas Stars in Game 5 of their Western Conference first-round series, lifting them to a 3-2 series lead.

How it happened: The Ducks scored four power-play goals in the postseason for the first time in franchise history, but it was still nervous time inside Honda Center to start the third period. The Ducks caught a break early in the period when Dallas defenseman Brenden Dillon tried to sweep the puck behind his net but didn’t get enough of the rubber and Ducks center Andrew Cogliano pounced on it. He quickly found right wing Jakob Silfverberg in front of the net, where he beat goalie Kari Lehtonen with a swift wrist shot to give Anaheim a 4-2 lead. That opened the floodgates as the Ducks would score twice more in the next six minutes to blow the game open.

What it means: The Ducks have to be feeling good about the state of their game after they dominated special teams on both ends of the ice and received a nice bounce-back game from rookie goalie Frederik Andersen, who stopped 34 shots.

Player of the game: Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf sat out the Game 4 loss in Dallas with an upper-body injury and was questionable to play in Game 5. He skated out for warm-ups to a nice ovation from the crowd and then went out and produced three points, tying his playoff career high and moving past teammate Teemu Selanne for the most playoff points in club history.

Stat of the game: Ducks defenseman Rickard Rakell scored the second goal for the Ducks, becoming the first player in franchise history to score his first career goal in the playoffs.

What’s next: The series moves back to Dallas for Game 6 on Sunday evening with the Ducks having their first opportunity to move on to the conference semifinals.

Stars, Ducks different teams from Game 1

April, 25, 2014
Apr 25
8:00
AM CT
FRISCO, Texas -- How fast can you grow up in a week?

If you're a father, you know the answer is "way too fast," but what if you're a hockey coach, watching your "kids" perform under postseason pressure?

Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff wasn't quite sure what to expect when the playoffs started last week. His team was a bunch of toddlers, learning how to crawl in the postseason. Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks were all grown up and ready to make a push toward the Stanley Cup. They looked like the experienced team in Games 1 and 2. They were at home in those games, doing the little things late and taking advantage of Stars mistakes to get a 2-0 series lead. Then, young goalie Frederik Andersen made enough big saves to help his team win.

[+] EnlargeShawn Horcoff
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsShawn Horcoff and the Stars seemed to hit their stride in Dallas, while Anaheim goalie Frederik Andersen stumbled.
But Andersen looked nervous and a bit rattled in Dallas. So did some of his teammates. Four games in, and with Game 5 set for Friday night in Anaheim, California, the Stars are doing a lot more than crawling. They seem comfortable in these playoffs, unfazed by the physical play or the pace of the game. In fact, they seem content to push that pace, using their speed to create an advantage. Maybe they're using their inexperience to their advantage, too. The Stars spoke about having fun. They talked about enjoying the moment. But don't take that to mean they're content to simply be here.

There are enough big kids on this team to keep everyone in line, and 35-year-old Shawn Horcoff, fresh off his best game in the series, seemed to be sending a message to his teammates and the media at the Stars' optional practice Thursday.

"Our motto here isn’t just to come into the playoffs and get our toes wet and save it for next year and years after," Horcoff said. "The older guys realize that it’s not that easy. There’s a lot of parity in the league, and it’s tough to make the playoffs. You have to make the most of all your chances, and that’s what we’re trying to do now.

"We’re a team that is gaining experience as we go, game by game. We are learning from our mistakes and figuring out what kind of game we need to play in the playoffs."

Horcoff knows these opportunities don't come around very often. And now that it's a best-of-three series, Horcoff and the Stars believe they can pull off the upset and extend their first playoff appearance in six seasons a little longer.

To do that, the Stars must prove that the type of performance they put forth in Games 3 and 4 at home can translate in Anaheim. The Ducks hope their experience and crowd are enough to seize momentum back from Dallas. But they're facing a different team now, one that isn't likely to be intimidated by the surroundings.

“I think now we’re facing an opportunity where we can create some pressure in their building," Ruff said. "I think some of that apprehension that we had in that first game, a little bit to start the second game, I think that they know what to expect now."

And that's another huge, physical effort from a Ducks team that must figure out who is starting in net and whether captain Ryan Getzlaf can return to the lineup for Game 5. But no matter what the answers are to those questions, the Stars should expect a spirited Ducks effort from the opening faceoff -- and a crowd that will be fired up.

The difference: Dallas won't be surprised by either.

"We’re playing loose here," Stars forward Alex Chiasson said. "There’s a lot of guys here with no playoff experience and we don’t think much. We just go out and play. Hopefully, we can keep that mentality and bring it out there."

It's a team that's growing up quickly.

Ducks lose lead, momentum to pesky Stars

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
11:20
PM CT


DALLAS -- This wasn’t supposed to happen.

Not like this. Not to the top seed in the Western Conference, who skated into Dallas with a 2-0 lead in the series and an opportunity to seize full control.

Sure, the pesky and young Dallas Stars won Game 3. Hey, it was their first playoff game in six seasons. The crowd was fired up and the Stars played desperate. That was to be expected.

But in Game 4, the Ducks came out ready to set a different tone. They were physical. They hit anything on skates. They were aggressive and dictated tempo. They blocked shots and took advantage of scoring opportunities. And they did it all without their captain even in the building. Anaheim left the ice after the first period up 2-0. The Ducks were 40 minutes away from a 3-1 series lead.

Then in 27 seconds, the momentum was gone. With Ryan Getzlaf back in Anaheim getting treatment for a re-aggravated upper-body injury, the Stars’ captain made his presence felt. Jamie Benn won a faceoff just outside the offensive zone, pushed the puck forward and then fired a wrist shot past goalie Frederik Andersen.

The entire tenor of the game and possibly the series changed in that moment. The Dallas decibel level soared inside American Airlines Center and so did the Stars. It was Dallas’ speed that made the Ducks look so slow. And that speed created numerous chances.

“It’s been probably one of our biggest assets the whole year,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “When we’re skating, we’re a tough team to play against.”

[+] EnlargeDallas Stars
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezCody Eakin and the Stars return to Anaheim with a tied series and all the momentum.


The pressure left the Ducks’ defense wobbly and Andersen unsure. The Stars peppered the 24-year-old goalie with pucks and got one to go in on the short side, a shot from Vernon Fiddler that Andersen has to stop.

“I was expecting the pass,” Andersen said. “They had a couple of guys coming in toward the net over there. I wasn’t able to trust my D-men there and that’s my fault. That’s one I’ve got to have.”

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau saw it that way too and told backup goalie Jonas Hiller to get ready. But by the time Boudreau made the goalie change, the Stars had added two more goals in the first 7:44 of the third period and had a 4-2 lead, effectively ending the game.

“I really feel like we’re in a playoff series now,” Ruff said. “The first couple of games didn’t really feel like it; now we feel we’ve got a playoff series.”

That wasn’t the Ducks’ plan. They didn’t want the Stars feeling like they were in the series at all. The Stars team that squinted in the bright playoff lights in the first 40 minutes of Game 1 looks like it's enjoying itself now, perhaps wearing sunglasses to cut down on the glare. And Dallas has put all the pressure back on the Ducks, who now have some big questions to answer.

Will Getzlaf be ready for Game 5? Who will be the goaltender?

Those are questions you don't want to have to answer in a 2-2 series. But that’s where things stand now.

Getzlaf went back early with the intent to get treatment and do all he could to be ready for Game 5 on Friday. In typical playoff brinkmanship, Boudreau wouldn’t answer anything directly about the injury. But the Ducks clearly aren’t the same team without their scoring leader -- and team leader -- on the ice. So where is he missed the most?

“Everywhere,” Boudreau said. “He’s one of the elite players in the NHL. You miss him in the offensive zone. You miss him on the boards. You miss him as a leader. You miss him in a lot of ways.”

On the power play, too. The Ducks haven’t scored a goal with the man-advantage in a week, going back to Game 1.

As for the goalie, Boudreau said he’d talk about it with his coaching staff and general manager and decide Thursday. Don’t be surprised to see Hiller in Game 5.

Anaheim had a terrific opportunity to push the Stars to the edge of elimination. Now, the Ducks need to hope that returning home is a key in retrieving some lost momentum. Because there’s no doubt the Stars stole that on Wednesday and will take it with them to California.

Ruff’s right. It’s a playoff series now.

Ducks lose lead, momentum to pesky Stars

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
11:20
PM CT


DALLAS – This wasn’t supposed to happen.

Not like this. Not to the top seed in the Western Conference, who skated into Dallas with a 2-0 lead in the series and an opportunity to seize full control.

Sure, the pesky and young Dallas Stars won Game 3. Hey, it was their first playoff game in six seasons. The crowd was fired up and the Stars played desperate. That was to be expected.

But in Game 4, the Ducks came out ready to set a different tone. They were physical. They hit anything on skates. They were aggressive and dictated tempo. They blocked shots and took advantage of scoring opportunities. And they did it all without their captain even in the building. Anaheim left the ice after the first period up 2-0. They were 40 minutes away from a 3-1 series lead.

Then in 27 seconds, the momentum was gone. With Ryan Getzlaf back in Anaheim getting treatment for a re-aggravated upper-body injury, the Stars’ captain made his presence felt. Jamie Benn won a faceoff just outside the offensive zone, pushed the puck forward and then fired a wrist shot past goalie Frederik Andersen.

The entire tenor of the game and possibly the series changed in that moment. The Dallas decibel level soared inside American Airlines Center and so did the Stars. It was Dallas’ speed that made the Ducks look so slow. And that speed created numerous chances.

“It’s been probably one of our biggest assets the whole year,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “When we’re skating, we’re a tough team to play against.”

[+] EnlargeDallas Stars
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezCody Eakin and the Stars return to Anaheim with a tied series and all the momentum.


The pressure left the Ducks’ defense wobbly and Andersen unsure. The Stars peppered the 24-year-old goalie with pucks and got one to go in on the short side, a shot from Vernon Fiddler that Andersen has to stop.

“I was expecting the pass,” Andersen said. “They had a couple of guys coming in toward the net over there. I wasn’t able to trust my D-men there and that’s my fault. That’s one I’ve got to have.”

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau saw it that way too and told backup goalie Jonas Hiller to get ready. But by the time Boudreau made the goalie change, the Stars had added two more goals in the first 7:44 of the third period and had a 4-2 lead, effectively ending the game.

“I really feel like we’re in a playoff series now,” Ruff said. “The first couple of games didn’t really feel, now we feel we’ve got a playoff series.”

That wasn’t the Ducks’ plan. They didn’t want the Stars feeling like they were in the series at all. The Stars team that squinted in the bright playoff lights in the first 40 minutes of Game 1 looks like its enjoying itself now, perhaps wearing sunglasses to cut the glare down. And they’ve put all the pressure back on the Ducks, who now have some big questions to answer.

Will Getzlaf be ready for Game 5? Who will be the goaltender?

Those are questions you want to have to answer in a 2-2 series. But that’s where things stand now.

Getzlaf went back early with the intent to get treatment and do all he could to be ready for Game 5 on Friday. In typical playoff brinkmanship, Boudreau wouldn’t answer anything directly about the injury. But the Ducks clearly aren’t the same team without their scoring leader -- and team leader -- on the ice. So where is he missed the most?

“Everywhere,” Boudreau said. “He’s one of the elite players in the NHL. You miss him in the offensive zone. You miss him on the boards. You miss him as a leader. You miss him in a lot of ways.”

On the power play, too. The Ducks haven’t scored a goal with the man-advantage in a week, going back to Game 1.

As for the goalie, Boudreau said he’d talk about it with his coaching staff and general manager and decide Thursday. Don’t be surprised to see Hiller in Game 5.

Anaheim had a terrific opportunity to push the Stars to the edge of elimination. Now, they need to hope that returning home is a key in retrieving some lost momentum. Because there’s no doubt the Stars stole that on Wednesday and will take it with them to California.

Ruff’s right. It’s a playoff series now.

Rapid Reaction: Stars 4, Ducks 2

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
9:51
PM CT
DALLAS -- The home team remains perfect in this first-round series as the Dallas Stars tie the series up with a 4-2 win in Game 4. Some quick thoughts:

How it happened: Dallas controlled the final 40 minutes, scoring four unanswered goals -- two in the second and two in the third -- to turn a 2-0 deficit into a two-goal advantage. Cody Eakin scored on the rush early in the period, firing a wrist shot over Frederik Andersen to give the Stars their first lead of the game. Minutes later, Vernon Fiddler made a terrific backhand pass to Alex Goligoski, who didn't miss. That was all Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau needed to see of Andersen as Jonas Hiller replaced him midway through the final period.

The Ducks dominated the first period, holding the Stars without a shot for the final 9:21 of the period and getting two goals to take a 2-0 lead into the dressing room. But the Stars owned the second period. It took Stars captain Jamie Benn 27 seconds to get his team on the board, pushing the puck forward off a faceoff win and snapping one past Andersen. About six minutes later, Fiddler squeezed one over Andersen's shoulder on the short side to tie it.

What it means: Dallas has turned this into a best-of-three series by protecting their home ice in Games 3 and 4. The Ducks still get two of those three games in Anaheim, but the Stars will fly out on Thursday with the momentum.

Player of the game: The Stars' role players were the difference on Wednesday, led by Fiddler. He attacked the net, was physical when he needed to be, won some key faceoffs, blocked three shots and had a goal and an assist. That's a full game and a good one.

Stat of the game: 16-3. That was the shots on goal advantage for the Stars in the second period, when the momentum shifted. Shots can be a misleading stat, but the Stars just peppered the Anaheim net. They kept the puck in the offensive zone and the Ducks couldn't seem to get it out. The game went the Stars' direction from that point forward.

No captain: Ryan Getzlaf was scratched with an upper-body injury and flew back to Anaheim on Wednesday afternoon to get treatment. Rickard Rakell was inserted in Getzlaf's place. The Ducks listed Getzlaf as day-to-day and, by flying back and getting treatment, they are hopeful he will play in Game 5 on Friday.

What's next: Game 5 is Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET in Anaheim. And the Stars' win guarantees they'll be a Game 6 back in Dallas on Sunday.

Memo to Stars, Ducks: Shut up and play

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
10:00
PM CT
DALLAS -- OK, that's enough chitchat. Let's just shut up and play already.

Both of you.

That goes for you, Anaheim. Yeah, I'm talking to you, too, Dallas. (Feels like a conversation I have weekly at home with my kids.)

It's not that the verbal volleys after Game 3 weren't fun. Who doesn't love a good argument every once in a while?

But, come on. Didn't everyone know things would get more physical with Dallas desperate and the playoffs back in Texas for the first time in six years?

The Ducks felt the Stars crossed that invisible, yet real physical "line" in regard to captain Ryan Getzlaf, the guy with the facemask guarding his lacerated jaw. The Stars felt they were simply playing a desperate, physical game, one they saw played effectively by Corey Perry in Game 1.

You're both right. And you're both wrong.

Antoine Roussel shouldn't have kept going at Getzlaf after the linesmen broke the scrum up near the end of the second period Monday. He landed a couple of punches after the bell. But it's not as if Getzlaf didn't get a good punch at the face of Roussel, either, as everything started.

Desperate teams sometimes do things that aren't particularly nice in those hard areas of the ice. The Stars were hoping to get the Ducks' captain off his game. They wanted to rattle him, and those around him, a bit. The facemask was just the tool to do so.

(Read full post)

Ducks' goal: Match Stars' physical play

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
1:00
PM CT
Antoine Roussel, Ryan GetzlafAP Photo/Tony GutierrezEmotions are running high between the Stars and Ducks in their first-round playoff series.
DALLAS -- A little more than 12 hours after the Dallas Stars’ 3-0 win in Game 3, the Anaheim Ducks hit the ice with a renewed focus on matching the Stars’ physical play.

Most of the complaints from the night before morphed into resolve Tuesday. Several Ducks players talked about playing with more of an edge.

“We’ve got to be smart but I think everyone’s got to dig deep here,” Ducks center Andrew Cogliano said. “Including myself, there’s a lot more, a lot of room for us to play harder. The bottom line is they played hard last night. They got under guys’ skin. They played playoff hockey and I don’t think we did that. I think we played a regular-season game last night and talking for myself first and foremost, we need to bear down and come to the rink ready to battle, ready to fight hard and we’ll go from there.”

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau thinks there’s an easy way to respond to the physical play: score goals on the power play.

“If you’re not going to make them pay when they’re doing things, automatically they’re going to keep doing things because they have no fear of you,” Boudreau said. “So, that to me is the biggest thing is to score some goals.”

Captain Ryan Getzlaf still wasn’t thrilled with Stars forward Antoine Roussel after the two exchanged some punches in the face in Game 3. Roussel didn’t quit punching even after the linesman attempted to break things up, which led to Roussel getting an extra two minutes in the penalty box.

(Read full post)

Ducks goalie Andersen getting job done

April, 21, 2014
Apr 21
12:00
PM CT
DALLAS -- Coming into the first round series, the Ducks weren't sure what they were going to do in goal. They had depth at the position, but uncertainty. They made the decision to go with young Frederik Andersen and after struggling a bit in the second and third periods of Game 1, he made the key saves needed in Game 2.

"He has the team’s faith, there’s no doubt about that," said Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau. "He’s pretty calm in all situations. Off the ice, he’s a very quiet man anyway. You don’t see the nervous energy.

"If it was me, I’d be pacing. When I played, I paced. He just sits down there. He’s pretty calm. We have confidence in him. He’s been battled tested on the road in some pretty hostile buildings."

It helps any goaltender to have so many players in front of you blocking shots, too. The Ducks do a good job of blocking pucks so Andersen isn't called upon to make every save, but they are also cognizant of moving out of his vision line so he can make the saves he sees.

Andersen hasn't had to be dominant so far this series. But he did have to protect a lead late in Game 2 as the Stars' swarmed the net with the extra skater. So far, he's done the job.

(Read full post)

Despite 2-0 lead, Ducks need faster starts

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
4:26
PM CT
DALLAS -- Ryan Getzlaf, his face still beat up, sat at his locker in the visiting dressing room at American Airlines Center and made it clear that, despite a 2-0 series lead, he believes the Anaheim Ducks can and must play better.

"We have to play with the puck a little bit better,” said Getzlaf, who had a goal and an assist in the same week his family welcomed a baby girl. “I thought that last game we turned it over a little bit more than we’re used to, and we let them come at us at the start of the game as opposed to starting on time. That’s kind of our main focus is to get going here at the drop of the puck."

Monday provides a great opportunity for the Ducks to take firm control of the series and attempt to decrease the decibel level of what’s expected to be a raucous home crowd for the Dallas Stars, who haven’t played in the postseason in Dallas since 2008.

"We’ve got to come out strong," said defenseman Stephane Robidas, who played most of the season in Dallas before being traded to Anaheim. "The fans here are going to be pumped. Everyone will be wearing 'Victory Green.' It’s going to be a really good atmosphere."

And that’s something that doesn’t seem to faze the Ducks. Anaheim had 26 road wins, second in the league to only the Colorado Avalanche. Playing in someone else’s building hasn’t bugged them at all.

"I think we play the same way," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said following Anaheim’s practice on Sunday afternoon. "We don’t deviate from how we play. There are no valleys and not a lot of peaks. When you play that way, it’s usually a successful tour for you."

The immediate goal on Monday will be to avoid a struggling first period. Anaheim watched as the Stars came out as the aggressors and got an early 1-0 lead in the first 10 minutes of Game 2. The Ducks took advantage of Stars mistakes and wrestled the lead back, eventually winning a one-goal game. But they expect a similar Stars push in Game 3.

"I thought we sat back," Getzlaf said. "The first 10 minutes of the hockey game, we were waiting to see what they were going to do. They came out swinging. I think we were being outshot 9-1 at one point. Those are things we’ll address."

Robidas knows that the Ducks will get the Stars’ best effort.

"They’re going to come out really hard," Robidas said. "It’s a team that never quits. I’ve been with that team for most of the year, and they never quit. It doesn’t matter what the score is, they have guys with a lot of pride on the other side, lots of skill and they won’t quit. There’s a reason they made the playoffs. They found a way to make it, and you’ve got to give them credit."

The Ducks say they’ll be ready. The plan: take control of the series with a chance to end it in Anaheim, if necessary. To do that, they need a win in Game 3 or 4.

Getzlaf stars after life-changing 48 hours

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
2:10
AM CT


ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Chin heavily bandaged, cheek scraped raw and eyes bloodshot red, Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf took the ice Friday night against the Dallas Stars looking far worse for wear than your typical NHL player after just one playoff game.

But most don’t experience in a season what Getzlaf went through in the previous 48 hours.

The 28-year-old team captain shook off the pain and discomfort of taking a slap shot to his face in Wednesday’s opener of the Western Conference quarterfinals and the emotions that accompanied the birth of his daughter in the wee hours Friday morning, producing a goal and assist in the 3-2 victory against the Stars and helping the Ducks to a 2-0 series lead heading back to Dallas for Game 3.

"He’s a leader on this team for a reason," linemate Corey Perry said.

Getzlaf said the only hurdle he needed to get past in order to play in Game 2 was the X-ray that revealed his jaw wasn’t broken after he took a vicious slap shot off the upper chin from Tyler Seguin in the closing seconds of Wednesday’s 4-3 win.

Then, late Thursday night, as he and his wife, Paige, were getting ready to turn out the lights, she went into labor. About 2½ hours later, they added Willa to the family, who joins sons Ryder and Gavin. Getzlaf was ready to settle into the hospital room for the night, but Paige had other plans.

"Once she was settled, she made sure I went home and got a little bit of rest so that I can play tonight," he said. "Once I went through the warm-ups and those kinds of things -- and got my feet under me -- it was OK."

Getzlaf laid a hit on Alex Goligoski on his first shift, which he said "helps get those little nerves out of the way." After the Stars took a 1-0 lead, Getzlaf then made a play so typical of his career when he stole the puck from left wing Erik Cole and beat goalie Kari Lehtonen up high to knot the score at one with just more than two minutes left in the opening period.

"That was huge," Perry said. "What a great play by him, stealing the puck and scoring on that. That’s the type of player he is, and he showed what he can do."

After Perry scored in the second period to give Anaheim a 2-1 lead, Getzlaf helped provide a crucial two-goal cushion when he hooked up with center Andrew Cogliano for a short-handed goal in the third period.

Cogliano was battling for the puck with Dallas defenseman Sergei Gonchar behind the net when Gonchar’s stick broke. Getzlaf and Cogliano still had four Stars they had to work around, but Getzlaf managed to get the puck back to Cogliano, who put the puck high in the net for a 3-1 advantage.

Getzlaf's night even impressed teammate Teemu Selanne, who has some experience with playoff points (83) and children (four).

"The last 24 hours, what has happened to him, that shows a lot of character," Selanne said. "He’s Mr. Incredible. … It took him a long time to realize he can be the best player in the league, but he’s finally got it."

Rapid Reaction: Ducks 3, Stars 2

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
12:58
AM CT
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Here's a quick look at the Anaheim Ducks' 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars in Game 2 of their Western Conference quarterfinal at Honda Center on Friday.

How it happened: The Ducks pinned the Stars in their end for a solid 2½ minutes late in the second period, taking advantage of the aging legs of almost-42-year-old Ray Whitney and just-turned-40 Sergei Gonchar. The Stars finally got the puck out of their end and managed to keep the pressure on the Ducks for a stretch, but Tyler Seguin made an errant pass across Dallas' blue line to Jamie Benn, who was drifting away from the puck. Benn could only tip the rubber as it skidded in front of him, not enough to prevent Corey Perry from swooping in and taking possession with a full head of steam motoring toward the Dallas goal. Trevor Daley was between Perry and Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen, and that probably made Perry even more determined -- in the first period, Daley straddled Perry as he laid on his back in the Dallas crease and got off a few blows before he was banished to the penalty box. Perry cocked and blasted the puck from just inside the right circle, past Lehtonen on the stick side for a 2-1 lead the Ducks would not relinquish.

What it means: The Ducks had to hold off some late pressure from the Stars -- including a power play that began with three minutes left, giving Dallas a two-man advantage for the final 30 seconds when it pulled its goalie -- but Anaheim owns its first 2-0 series lead since the opening round of the 2009 playoffs against the San Jose Sharks and has won two straight playoff games for the first time since winning Games 2 and 3 of the following series against the Detroit Red Wings, a series the Ducks would eventually lose in seven games.

Player of the game: Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf had an interesting 48 hours leading up to Game 2. He took a puck to the upper chin in the final seconds of Wednesday’s victory in the series opener, which opened a gaping wound that required numerous stitches. He then spent most of Thursday night and early Friday in the hospital, as his third child was born just before 1 a.m. local time. Neither experience proved too much for Getzlaf, who took the ice Friday night and started things off with a big hit on Alex Goligoski in the opening 30 seconds. He later came through with an unassisted goal in the opening period, which tied the score at one, about 30 seconds after Daley had escaped the box following his roughing penalty on Perry. Getzlaf also assisted on Andrew Cogliano’s short-handed goal in the third period, which gave Anaheim a 3-1 lead.

Stat of the game: Perry, one of only two NHL players with at least 20 goals at home during the regular season, scored the 19th playoff goal of his career -- but first since April 20, 2011 -- in Game 4 against the Nashville Predators.

What’s next: The series moves on to Dallas, where the Stars will host the Ducks in Game 3 on Monday. Anaheim will be looking to take its first 3-0 series lead since the opening round of their Stanley Cup championship run in 2007.

Rapid Reaction: Ducks 4, Stars 3

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
1:10
AM CT


ANAHEIM -- The Anaheim Ducks nearly took their unfinished business too lightly Wednesday night.

After building a four-goal lead midway through the second period against the visiting Dallas Stars, the Ducks were forced to hang on for the final six minutes before pulling out a 4-3 victory in Game 1 of their Western Conference quarterfinal at Honda Center.

The Ducks have been dispatched in the first round of the playoffs in three of their four appearances since winning the Stanley Cup in 2007, despite having home-ice advantage, and they seemed overly intent on not going home early this spring. Even their marketing department has unleashed the battle cry, "Unfinished Business," after getting eliminated in the first round last season as the second-seeded team.

Anaheim, now representing the top seed in the West for the first time in franchise history, made a statement early on Thursday night, scoring three unanswered goals in the opening period.

Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, the two remaining players from the Stanley Cup championship team, were among those who brought their A-games for Anaheim, as Getzlaf had a goal and an assist and Perry assisted on Getzlaf’s first-period goal. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau rolled the dice by giving rookie goalkeeper Frederik Andersen his first career playoff start and he responded with 32 saves.

Dallas, making its first playoff appearances since 2008, came out blazing but the Ducks quickly threw cold water on their hopes as Erik Cole turned the puck over in the offensive zone, leading to a 2-on-1 by Nick Bonino and Kyle Palmieri. Bonino lifted a brilliant pass over diving defenseman Aaron Rome and onto the stick of Palmeiri, who guided it into the net with his backhand.

A blocked shot by Getzlaf about 11 minutes later led to another odd-man rush by Anaheim and this time left wing Matt Beleskey fired the puck off the chest of Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen and, before Lehtonen could locate the runner, Getzlaf had swooped in and slapped it into the net for a 2-0 lead.

The Ducks then ended an 0-for-11 streak on the power play when Patrick Maroon made a nifty cross pass through the legs of defenseman Jordie Benn and onto the tape of Mathieu Perreault, who stuck the puck into the open side for a 3-0 lead.

Another power-play goal by the Ducks with just more than nine minutes left in the second period proved huge as the Stars scored twice in the final 3½ minutes of the period to cut the deficit in half and another by Tyler Seguin with just more than six minutes left to trim the deficit to 4-3.

The Ducks persevered, however, as Andersen came up with some big stops down the stretch.

The victory didn’t come without its physical downfalls for the Ducks. Getzlaf took a slap shot off the face with 16 seconds left and hurried off the ice, and Beleskey, who scored the fourth goal for the Ducks, left with a lower-body injury in the third period and did not return.

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