Cross Checks: Mathieu Perreault

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- After starting three different goalies in three straight games, Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau decided to alleviate any suspense on Sunday.

The kid stays in, obviously, after a 28-save shutout.

"Well, I kind of believe that it's not a difficult decision," Boudreau said with a smile. "I'm not going to try to play that game. He came in. He played great. He's going to go again."

Boudreau said he told John Gibson on Friday night that he was the starter for Game 4, and told a disappointed Jonas Hiller the news on Saturday morning.

While his face could not hide his disappointment Sunday, to Hiller’s credit he said he was willing to accept whatever is good for the team, that he just wants to be supportive of his teammates.

Prodded Sunday to find out why he made the decision to start a rookie without NHL playoff experience, Boudreau was asked about playing in the AHL in the mid-1980s when his club was upset by a 19-year-old goalie in the playoffs.

"We lost to Patrick Roy that year," Boudreau said. "And then we've also done the same thing coming out of juniors to Carey Price in the American League (2007 AHL playoffs), where he beat us in the championship. You know young kids can do it. They just come up and they're ready. And those two that I just mentioned obviously were very special goalies. I think, and I don't want to hype him too much, this is what they've been talking about him for the last three years."

The Price-Gibson comparisons have already begun, in large part because both are so calm and cool.

"Nothing seems to bother him and that was the thing I first saw with Carey Price," Boudreau said. "In that [AHL] series, you couldn't faze him. He'd just move and make all the saves look easy. Consequently he's gone on to be one of the best."

Ducks' injuries

Boudreau said center Mathieu Perreault (lower-body injury) would be a game-time decision Monday night. But Boudreau said injured winger Matt Beleskey and injured goalie Frederik Andersen would sit. Both players suffered lower-body injuries in Game 3 and did not play in Game 4.

Kings look to rebound

Meanwhile, out at the Kings' training facility in El Segundo on Sunday, a veteran team looked to recharge after dropping two straight.

Head coach Darryl Sutter had some fun, too.

"Yeah, I’m not rattled. I’m just thankful I’m alive today. I’m fortunate to pull through after the devastating loss [Saturday] night," Sutter said before pulling a M.A.S.H. reference out of his repertoire. "Radar and Hawkeye had to get me up to come here today."

Point taken. This is a team that has seen it all, won a Cup two years ago, went to the conference finals last year and erased a 3-0 series deficit to San Jose in the first round this year.

Losing two straight to rival Anaheim is not going to rattle this playoff-savvy group.

"It’s the best-of-three. Nothing wrong with that," veteran center Jarret Stoll told reporters Sunday. "They’re a great team. They had the best record in the West, No. 1 seed, whatever they were. So they’re a good team. We know that. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We can say that. It’s a series now. A good, positive day today. We came in and the boys were in good spirits. Get ready to win a road game."

Rapid Reaction: Stars 4, Ducks 2

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
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.

"Unfinished Business" was the motto when the Anaheim Ducks opened camp this season.

A first-round playoff exit last season and a mediocre final month of the regular season left a sour taste for the Ducks, and had some people around the league wonder if their surprise Pacific Division title last season was more fluke than anything. Whether it was for the psyche of the team or to prove something to others, it made the start of this season incredibly important for the Ducks.

"Absolutely," Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau told Thursday. "We really talked about it in training camp. Our last 20 games in the regular season last year we were 8-8-4. We came to camp and we wanted to make sure we worked hard. And we went over all the teams in our division alone, we said, 'It's going to be very tough to make the playoffs.' It still is. We can't wait until February to turn on the juice. We've got to play every game like it's a playoff game. I think the guys really took to it."

Leading the overall standings with 27 points thanks to a 13-3-1 record certainly answers the call for a strong start -- and then some. And as Boudreau pointed out, they needed a strong start given the Pacific Division they play in, where San Jose, Phoenix, Vancouver and Los Angeles are hot on their trail.

No question, the star duo of Ryan Getzlaf (18 points) and Corey Perry (17 points) is doing its usual thing, leading the team in scoring, but what has made the difference in terms of consistency is the ability of the support group to provide impact, the likes of forwards Mathieu Perreault (14 points), Nick Bonino (10 points) and Dustin Penner (team-leading plus-15).

In fact, of the 17 Ducks forwards who have dressed for at least a game this season, all but one of them have averaged double digits in ice time, a testimony to the way Boudreau rolls four lines, more than many teams.

"I've always believed in the Boston philosophy, that you can't win with just two lines, or three lines, that you need four lines going," Boudreau said, crediting GM Bob Murray for giving him the assets to employ four lines.

"Last night, our fourth line had 12 goals combined on the season. That's pretty good," said Boudreau, referring to a unit comprised Wednesday night of Emerson Etem, Bonino and Kyle Palmieri -- all with four goals each on the season. All of which happening while the likes of Jakob Silfverberg, Saku Koivu and Matt Beleskey are out with injuries up front.

"We need this depth," Boudreau said. "We could tell in training camp, we really thought we had 17 forwards who can play in the NHL."

On defense, aside from the usual top-notch play of Cam Fowler and Francois Beauchemin, you’ve got the likes of 19-year-old rookie Hampus Lindholm (plus-13, 19:14 minutes per game) and veteran Bryan Allen (plus-10, 18:48 minutes per game) contributing without as much fanfare.

"I am so happy with Bryan Allen," Boudreau said. "To me he’s been our best defenseman all year. This year, it's like a total rejuvenation. He feels comfortable, he's playing important minutes, he's played along young kids [mostly with Sami Vatanen this season].

"Bryan has done so many good things. I've been so impressed with him, probably more than anybody else on our team."

In short, the Ducks are more of an actual team than in the past when they relied so heavily on their top players to do it all.

"They’re four lines deep, they have a lot of youth who got great experience last year, as a team they're building off last year," an Eastern Conference team executive told Thursday. "They're deep in goal. Their strength is that they don't have any real, obvious weaknesses. The Ducks don't fall off in any particular area. There's solid depth behind the bigger names. I think they're for real."

It's a tip of the hat to Murray, who without being a team that spends up to the maximum under the salary cap, has rebuilt the base around the big stars on the roster.

"Bob Murray has done an unbelievable job there, this team is built for the long term," said the team executive.

Added a Western Conference team executive: "Their young guys have grown a lot over the past two years. They've done a good job there, nice balance, solid depth, they're going to be a good team for a while."