Power Play, Third Period Explosion Propel Ducks in 6-2 Victory

Jeff Gross

The Anaheim Ducks scored four power play goals and three in the first seven minutes of the third period to send the Dallas Stars to the brink of playoff elimination with a 6-2 blowout victory.

Final Score: Ducks 6, Stars 2

First Period Recap: It may not have come to the surprise of some of us here at AC who were theorizing it, but just prior to the game it was announced that Hampus Lindholm would be out of the lineup with a "stiff neck." And yeah that's probably true considering the rocking he took in game four.

The lineup Bruce Boudreau selected screamed one thing outright: physicality. And it proved true. Before the first shot on goal was even registered, the Ducks threw eight hits, with Dallas getting one of their own.

It took a while to get the actual shooting going, but Dallas quickly got to their speedy ways and started peppering Frederik Andersen early.

The difference between tonight and the previous two games, however, is that this time Anaheim executed on their opportunities and buried their chances.

At the 5:32 mark, Nick Bonino broke open the floodgates for the most maligned aspect of Anaheim's game this series: the power play.

After receiving a pass, Bonino cut to the slot and let a wrister go while falling down that slipped just inside the post past Kari Lehtonen to put the hosts up 1-0 early.

The Stars almost tied the game not long after, however the puck was clearly batted in with a high stick (about eight feet off the ground high) and was rightfully waved off.

Then the ugliness started.

Just before the midway point of the period, Ryan Garbutt skated off the ice as Corey Perry jumped on. Being who he is, Garbutt jabbed the blade of his stick right into the midsection of the Ducks winger, sending him down in a heap.

The play got Garbutt a game misconduct and a five-minute major penalty for spearing. It also wouldn't surprise me if he had a hearing with the NHL, because replays clearly showed him jamming his twig into Perry's gut.

The major power play would result in two goals.

First, Ryan Getzlaf fumbled a puck at his blue line, placing it right on the stick of Jamie Benn, who walked the puck in and tucked it under Frederik Andersen for an embarrassing shorthanded goal to tie the game at one.

And thankfully, the second came just 26 seconds later. Francois Beauchemin let a rocket go from the right point that tipped off of Rickard Rakell's stick and fluttered past Lehtonen into the net. After seeing Rakell come so close on so many chances late in the season, it's absolutely wonderful to finally see him get his first NHL goal, and there really was no better time to do it.

However, once the power play ended, Anaheim did not get another shot attempt for the remainder of the period as the Ducks got themselves deep in penalty trouble, surrendering three consecutive power plays to the visitors, including 16 seconds of 5-on-3 hockey which thankfully didn't result in anything. The first of which came when Jamie Benn took a downright-blatant dive after Nick Bonino got inside position on him.

So despite the pretty solid start, Dallas made far better work of 5-on-5 play and was more efficient with their power play time, resulting in their outshooting the Ducks 12-9 through 20 minutes.

Second Period Recap: The second period started brilliantly for Anaheim.

A quick counter-attack turned into a 2-on-1 rush where Ryan Getzlaf delivered a perfect pass to Mathieu Perreault, who beautifully buried the puck past a sliding Lehtonen to put the Ducks up 3-1.

Then things got ugly. Again.

The Ducks fell back into penalty trouble as Teemu Selanne took an interference penalty, followed by Andrew Cogliano getting a goaltender interference penalty that can only be described as Daytime Emmy-worthy theatrics from Sergei Gonchar. The Ducks forward tried to push his way inside (so, contact, but very little) but Gonchar toppled forward, punched the helmet off of his own goaltender, and threw the net off its moorings. The French National Soccer team would have been embarrassed. LeBron James would  have been proud.

And for the second time tonight, the Ducks skated with three to Dallas' five. Yet again, it was killed off.

Emerson Etem and Antoine Roussel were both given ten minute misconducts and minors for unsportsmanlike conduct a few minutes later.

Then with the Stars in nearly full control of the puck, Dallas got one back. Arguably the second-most dangerous Dallas forward in this series after Jamie Benn, Shawn Horcoff, got to a rebound behind the net and sent it to the point. He then bolted to the front of the net, bumped Frederik Andersen (not quite enough to draw a goaltender interference penalty), and banged home a rebound off the Danish netminder to close the lead to one.

Things didn't get much better for Anaheim, as Dallas continued to put together shift after shift of good possession until the third period finally came to an end.

The Stars put 16 more shots on the board while Anaheim only managed 10 of their own, bringing the game totals to 28-19 through two periods.

Third Period Recap: Whatever Bruce Boudreau said in the locker room at that intermission was golden. I hope someone recorded it.

The Ducks came out flying and struck early and often, starting just over one minute into the frame.

Andrew Cogliano recovered a dumped-in puck before sending a quick backhand pass to Jakob Silfverberg who ripped the shot past Lehtonen to bring the lead back to two.

A few minutes later, the captain atoned for his atrocious turnover in the first period. After Corey Perry dominantly forced a turnover, he sent a pass back to the front of the net where Getzlaf one-timed the puck to make it 5-2. This would spell the end of the night for Kari Lehtonen and the first appearance for Dallas backup Tim Thomas in these playoffs.

Thomas would make one solid save before turning into his old crazy self.

The Ducks recovered a puck on the power play and Mathieu Perreault quickly found Corey Perry all alone along the goal line. Rather than hug the post, Thomas dove out like a madman in a poke-check attempt... and completely missed. Perry simply wrapped the puck around the Dallas netminder and scored the Ducks third goal of the period to put the hosts up 6-2.

The rest of the game finished pretty flat in terms of play, with neither team really getting much more in the way of shots or chances.

However, there were plenty more penalties for the officials to dole out as Dallas started taking liberties with their hosts.

In fact, a whopping 60 penalty minutes were distributed at the 7:40 mark of the period after a massive scrum that ensued after Mathieu Perreault took exception to some of his treatment and took a nice two-handed chop at his assailant. Vernon Fiddler, Perreault, and Patrick Maroon were all ejected. (Why Maroon? I have no idea.)

Dallas got another big opportunity to at least get a message-sending goal late when Bryan Allen took a double-minor for a gnarly high-stick against Alex Chaisson.

The Stars managed only three shots on the entire four-minute advantage.

The horn sounded with Antoine Roussel earning himself a pointless minor penalty for roughing against Allen, but it didn't matter. The explosion to start the third period did the Stars in, and the Ducks converted on four of their seven opportunities on the power play to take a 6-2 victory and push the Dallas Stars to the brink of elimination heading into game six.

The final period once again saw Dallas outshoot Anaheim 8-4 for a game total of 36-23 visitors.

**********

The Good: The Ducks FINALLY made Dallas pay for taking so many penalties. This series has been amazingly dirty on both sides, and both teams have had at least three powerplays in every game so far. Coming into tonight, the Ducks had not scored on the power play since game one, going 0-for-12 in games 2-4. Tonight it struck a franchise-record four times on six opportunities. With so many of these chances going for nothing in the previous three games, it was great to see it come up so big when it needed to.

Likewise, the penalty kill was even better. The Ducks have allowed only two power play goals in this series, and were perfect tonight on seven penalties and 57 penalty minutes taken by the Ducks.

The Bad: This was a sordid affair full of cheapshots and tons of diving. Jamie Benn went down like a sack of bricks after Nick Bonino brushed him. Sergei Gonchar ran over his own goaltender after a small bump from Andrew Cogliano. I'm pretty sure Perry may have added some drama to that Ryan Garbutt spear to ensure the penalty received a maximum punishment. Goalies on both ends were getting run over. There were a lot of punches thrown after the whistles. Overall both these teams were kind of embarrassing to watch from a sportsmanship standpoint tonight.

Oh, and why does Pat Maroon keep getting thrown out of games? Seriously. Tonight he literally didn't do anything besides come to the aid of a teammate (no punches thrown) and they tossed him.

The Ugly: This game was not nearly as lopsided as the score says. The Ducks played pretty well but were horribly out-possessed, getting just under 37% of the shot attempts when the teams were at even strength. Dallas continually outworked the Ducks at and for much of the second period was the far better team. Had Anaheim not executed on some of these scoring chances, the Stars could easily have won this one too.

**********

3rd MVD: Luca Sbisa proved a lot of his doubters here at AC wrong, as he was visibly one of Anaheim's best defensemen tonight. Right from the get-go, Sbisa set the tone for his evening with a bone-rattling hit on Vernon Fiddler. From that point forward, he was a force, throwing five hits, getting an assist, and driving possession with a +26.7% relative Corsi. Boudreau wanted him to be the "top-four defenseman" he could be, and tonight he absolutely was.

2nd MVD: After being one of the worst possession players on the roster for the last three games, Jakob Silfverberg was the best on the Ducks tonight with a 61.5% Corsi. His forechecking work was key to the Ducks recovering pucks in the offensive zone, and his line generated some of the best chances all night. Additionally, he played 5:26 shorthanded and was a huge factor behind Anaheim's great night on the penalty kill.

1st MVD: It may feel like a cop-out to put him here, but there's no doubt in my mind that Frederik Andersen deserves the number-one honor here. After a dysmal performance in game four, Andersen showed incredible mental resolve and bounced back with a rock-solid effort tonight, stopping 34 of the 36 shots he faced, including several in spectacular fashion. Likewise, he withstood a beating as Dallas pushed him, shoved him, bumped him and even tackled him all night long. The big Dane withstood all of it and it's safe to say he's earned the right to keep the net going into game six with a chance to close the series.

Game Six: Sunday, April 27th at 5:00 PM

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