Ducks Hold on for Dear Life to Take 2-0 Series Lead

GET IN! - Jeff Gross

The Ducks head to Dallas with a chance to grab a stranglehold on the series, thanks to some well timed goals and a terrifyingly defensive third period.

Final Score:  Ducks 3, Stars 2

First Period Recap: As expected, the Stars came out with a lot more jump in their step to start Game 2 than they did on Wednesday.  The first couple of shifts were good for the Ducks, but before a minute had even elapsed, Jamie Benn and Corey Perry were jousting in front of the Stars' bench.

Kyle Palmieri had a glorious scoring chance, only two minutes into the game, as he was left all alone in the slot and Nick Bonino got him the puck from behind the net, but as opposed to the last game, Kari Lehtonen made the save.  Not only that, but the rebound escaped a pinching Bryan Allen to Ryan Garbutt who took it for a breakaway on Frederik Andersen.  The Dane got a piece of the shot to steer it to the corner, where Garbutt smashed Palmieri in the face as the puck arrived in their feet to send the Ducks on their first power play of the game.

The power play was terrible.  The passing was sloppy, nearly turning the puck over on a number of occasions and at least three times the Ducks failed to hold the blue line, doing the Dallas PK's job for them.

After the penalty was killed, Dallas took control with ten shot attempts over the next three minutes or so.  They also continued to go right at Perry.  Jamie Benn gave Perry a solid hit as he played the puck at his own blueline and Perry responded by spearing him right in the Joel Quinneville fine zone.  Perry was called for the retaliation and it only took Dallas 15 seconds on the power play to take their first lead of the series.  The Stars won the faceoff, after a couple of passes around the perimeter, Alex Goligoski got the puck down to Benn below the goal line and he teed it up for Alex Chiasson to one time it past Andersen.  One undisciplined play cost the Ducks dearly there.

About three minutes later the Ducks really got back into the game with a few shifts deep in the Dallas zone.  Eventually the pressure led to some fireworks in the crease between Perry and Trevor Daley.  It started with a rebound to the left of Lehtonen that Perry took a couple of whacks at as the Dallas tender was trying to cover.  It could have been whistled there, but the puck came loose, at just that moment Daley wrecked Perry from behind and proceeded to straddle him in the crease and unload on him while he was pinned down.  Eventually the whistle blew and the two were separated, with Daley taking two for roughing.

For some reason this did not sit well with the Ducks fans who berated the referee for.... umm.... calling a penalty against Dallas?  I have no idea.  Yes it was frustrating to watch one of our best players being hammered on the ice, but even after the power play had started the "ref you suck" chants continued.  It made no sense to me, but mob mentality I guess.  The resulting PP was equally as ineffective as the first, but this time thanks to some solid penalty killing from the Stars, rather than Ducks ineptitude.

Seconds after Daley exited the box Ryan Getzlaf evened the score with a fantastic individual effort.  The now three time father, sporting a football style face mask knocked a Dallas clearing attempt out of mid air turned right past Erik Cole and took a direct route to the front of the net, not bothered by Cole's stick rapping and tapping on his hands and feet as Cole chased the play and just ROOFED it over Lehtonen's glove hand.

Only about 30 seconds later, Saku Koivu was called for cross checking Chiasson in front of the Ducks' net.  He didn't get nearly as much for his two minutes as Daley did, but the Stars were back on the PP.  This kill was very good for the Ducks as they burned nearly a minute off without letting Dallas set up before Jacob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano went on a shorthanded rush.  It was defended pretty well, other than the fact that as the pass came to Cogliano, Chiasson got the stick between his legs and dumped him to the ice, negating the rest of the penalty to Koivu.

The period ended tied at one, with the Ducks on a carry over power play, trailing the shots on goal 11-10 and on the Fenwick chart 17-15.

One general note on the first period:  It was clear that Lindy Ruff's plan of action was, when in doubt, just put the puck in front of the net.  Not only did Dallas have spells of a ton of shot attempts, but they had near countless passes right through the crease that went in one side and out the other, with nobody on the end of them.

Second Period Recap: Nothing really came from the abbreviated power play to start the period for the Ducks.  The second period was easily the most settled as well as evenly and consistently played from both teams.  The Ducks had a couple of chances in this period with Lehtonen slipping and sliding out of his crease, past being square to the shot.  One came on this power play, it was the best chance of the advantage, but the Finn got a pad on the shot.

The first real action came when Getzlaf was called for one of the most obvious interference penalties you've ever seen, but it stirred the HEAVILY partisan crowd into another anti-zebra frenzy.  The penalty kill was phenomenal, barely letting Dallas break out of their own zone.  It wasn't as if the Ducks had the puck or had any chances shorthanded, but they were standing up at the Stars' blueline and in the neutral zone, just refusing to let anything through.

Anaheim got behind the Dallas D a couple of times in the middle of the period, first with Devante Smith-Pelly.  He got a shot away, but it was no trouble for Lehtonen.  Then Bonino was sprung on a breakaway, Kevin Connauton had a stick on him from behind, just enough to stop Bonino from making a really good move and avoid taking a penalty.  The next minute and 30 seconds were all spent in the Dallas zone, the Ducks got a full forward line change and kept the Stars pinned.  Teemu Selanne had the best scoring chance during the sequence, on a pass from Patrick Maroon, behind the net that hit the side of the goal.

Eventually Dallas cleared and had a shift of extended zone time of their own, though not quite as many dangerous shots.  Thanks to the long change in the second period, Maroon was left out for what felt like an eternity that spanned both dominant offensive shifts, but he was the one who ended up gathering the puck from the front of Andersen's net and relieving the pressure with a clearance.  The shift for Maroon lasted 2:35, but Hampus Lindholm was out even longer at 2:45.  Luckily there was a TV timeout after that.

Shortly after the break, Tyler Seguin's pass just outside the Dallas blueline was just out of the reach of Benn.  Perry pounced on it, had all kinds of time and space to walk into the zone and ripped a laser past Lehtonen, off the post and in to give the Ducks their first lead of the game.  Nasty turnover, in a terrible spot, by the Stars' two best players, giving up a goal to the most hated player on the Ducks roster with a PERFECT shot.  That'll sting a bit.

Palmieri forced Lehtonen to mishandle the puck behind the net and shoot it right out into the slot, very similar to the play Maroon missed on in Game 1, but no Duck was there to take advantage.

At the tail end of the period, Koivu was caught for hooking Valeri Nichushkin and Andersen had to make a couple of good saves.  First was a crazy scramble in his crease, that the referee claimed he had sight of the puck the whole time *cough*bulls**t*cough* and didn't blow the whistle, but that play ended with a glove save through a tiny screen.  And the other was much more difficult and subtle as Chiasson walked across the crease and shoveled a backhander toward the far post, but Andersen extended the leg just enough to get a toe on it.

And so, after 40 minutes the Ducks led 2-1, being outshot 21-17 and out Fenwicked 31-26.

Third Period Recap: The final 20 was all Dallas, throwing the kitchen sink at Andersen.  Early in the period Perry was called for clearing the puck over the glass.  About a minute and a half into the kill, Cogliano got in on the forecheck, totally got away with slashing the stick of Sergei Gonchar in half (I guess the refs kind of did suck, but nobody was pointing it out this time) and passed the puck to a trailing Getzlaf.  Now please excuse me while I pull a Justin Bourne

Wide_open_cogs_medium

That's what you call puck focused, kids.  Getz drew Stars players like moths to a flame and passed it right back to a wide open Cogliano for yet another gorgeous shot and goal.  Somewhat surprisingly, it was Cogs' first ever goal int the playoffs.  3-1 Ducks.

Remember how Kid ish pointed out that the Ducks didn't play into the score effects when they were up 4-0 in Game 1?  Yeah... That wasn't the case tonight.  The Ducks were content to park the bus (really all you need is a VW Bug to block up a hockey goal though) allow Dallas to come at them, then just chip it out and change.

Colton Sceviour did find time to hack Perreault in the face with his stick, drawing blood but no call from the officials.  How do you think the crowd responded to that?  Perhaps a four minute power play would have stemmed the tide of Dallas shot attempts, but alas it was not to be.

Naturally, Dallas did score to bring it back within a goal.  Shawn Horcoff found Garbutt at the top of the crease, it took a second for him to corral the puck but he beat Andersen over the blocker.

The rest of the game went something like this:  Dallas pressure, Dallas shots, Ducks clear, change, rinse, repeat.

With exactly three minutes remaining Getzlaf was called for tripping Connauton.  Getz turned the puck over on the attempted breakout, tried to swat the puck off of Connauton's stick but inadvertently swept the leg.  I'm pretty sure I blacked out for most of the rest of the game.  Ruff pulled Lehtonen with about a minute and a half left.  Getzlaf had one shot at the empty net, but missed for icing with 19.3 seconds left.  Bruce Boudreau called his timeout, Dallas won the faceoff and the Ducks juuuuuuuuuust held on to win.

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The Good: If there is one word that can describe the Ducks in these playoffs so far it's opportunistic.  Getzlaf and Perry both forced turnovers and made the best of them for their goals, and Cogliano's goal (as diagrammed above) was a huge defensive breakdown from the Dallas power players.  And even going back to Game 1, they're forcing mistakes and capitalizing on them.

The Bad: Of course, the opposite side of that coin is, the Stars only have to clean up a couple of major mistakes or get bailed out by Lehtonen to shut down the Ducks' offense and make this a very close series.

The Ugly: The nail biting, heart attack inducing, sphincter clenching, score effected, Randy Carlyle-esque, Kitty bar the door third period was simply hard to watch.  The Ducks do not have the killer instinct to put Dallas away right now.  They did a good job of sticking to their game plan on Wednesday, continuing to play the way that got them to that four goal lead in the first place as Dallas tried to claw back, but this was just batten down the hatches for the last 20 minutes and it's not the right direction to be going in.  If they continue to let the Stars hang around in games, they'll win some and this series could get just as hairy as that third period.

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3rd MVD: Patrick Maroon - He may not have been a huge impact player the entire game, but that marathon shift in the second period, where he made some outstanding plays, needs some extra recognition.

2nd MVD: Andrew Cogliano - One of only four players with a CF% above 50 for the Ducks, the others were his linemates (Silfverberg and Koivu) and Bonino.  Also did some of the team's best work on the penalty kill, including scoring the game winner while shorthanded.

1st MVD: Ryan Getzlaf - The narrative cannot be denied.  While wearing the jaw protector, and probably working off of a very limited amount of sleep thanks to the birth of his daughter, he put in a classic Getzlaf-ian performance (in a good way) with a  goal and an assist.

Game 3: Monday, April 21, 6:30pm PT at American Airlines Center

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