Final Score: Ducks 5, Stars 4 OT
I can sum it up in a couple of words: First period sucked, Second period was great then sucked, Third period sucked until the last f***ing amazing 2 minutes, and Overtime was ours for the taking. But here's the longer version if you care to read it....
First Period Recap: It was another one of those first periods--you know, the one's we've become so accustomed to seeing? Right off the initial face-off, Tyler Seguin's clean win gave Alex Chiasson a breakaway opportunity. From there the Dallas Stars took over as they continued to throw pucks in deep and pressure the slow and scrambling Ducks defense.
Last game, the Ducks were 4 for 6 for the power play opportunities. Despite wanting to stay out of the box, the Stars took the first penalty after Trevor Daley was whistled for high sticking. Corey Perry's fake had the Stars defensemen sliding, but he could not capitalize on his bid. Nick Bonino just could not get to the rebound off Ryan Getzlaf's shot. At the very end, a Stars defensive miscue nearly allowed the Teemu Selanne to find Rickard Rakell for the first ppg, but Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen was more than able to turn it away. In the last seconds, Shawn Horcoff timed a pass perfectly for Daley who immediately exited the box and made good on the clean breakaway. So much for a good start. Stars up 1-0.
After forcing Roussel to briefly head to the locker room, Mark Fistric headed off the ice himself towards the penalty box for elbowing. Right away, the Stars began to do work on the power play. Seguin soon found an open Cody Eakin camped out in front of Ducks netminder Frederik Andersen to put the Stars up two goals. 2-0 Stars. Not too long after, Saku Koivu skated towards the box for interference, as the Stars would receive yet another man advantage. The first Ducks PK unit stayed on the ice for the entire two minutes thanks to the complete inability to clear the defensive zone. Despite ending the PP with only two SOGs, the Stars had no trouble holding in the puck over the tired and toppling Ducks PK unit.
After tripping over Andersen's goalie stick, a frustrated Erik Cole was called for interference on Francois Beauchemin. Down by two goals, the Ducks made sure to make this one count. After receiving rookie Rakell's pass off the boards, the ageless Teemu Selanne perfectly elevated a pass across the crease over Lehtonen's stick and right onto Devante Smith-Pelly's tape. 2-1, down only one goal.
Unfortunately, the Stars did not give the Ducks any time to carry that momentum. The Stars took advantage of a turnover by Getzlaf by holding the puck in. Andersen made the initial save on Trevor Daley's shot from the point but resident Duck killer Ryan Garbutt quickly deposited the rebound past the Ducks goaltender.
In a pivotal Game 6, the Ducks played, by far, one of THE WORST defensive periods in a while. Even Mr. Cool-as-a-Cucumber Andersen was heated by the end of the period as he skated into the locker room.
Second Period Recap: The question, "What the hell does Bruce Boudreau say in between periods in the locker rooms?" will remain one of the greatest mysteries of the universe....
The beginning of the period brought out an entirely different team in white sweaters...these were the Anaheim Ducks that had been missing in the first 20 minutes.
The Ducks were first to do damage when none other than, the Great 8 overtook Brendon Dillon from behind the Stars net on a 3-on-2 dump in. With help from Nick Bonino, Selanne was able to regain possession for the puck and find Ben Lovejoy at the blue line. And with his first career playoff goal, Lovejoy brought the Ducks within one goal, 3-2.
Clearly taking the period's momentum, the Ducks took the first man advantage when Perry drew the interference call on Alex Goligoski. Early in the PP, Cam Fowler has a scare when resident Garbutt took away the puck. The PP saw a couple good chances with Pat Maroon centering for Perry in front of Lehtonen, and when Perry's bid brought the loose puck in front of the Stars netminder. The Selanne-Rakell-DSP line by far created the most offensive threats in front of Lehtonen, but none availed.
A drive for the puck gave our lovely Perry the opportunity to shower Lehtonen with some snow, which of course resulted in a scrum beside the net. (Un)Surprisingly, it was not Perry who sat in the box but Matt Beleskey, along with Dillon for roughing minors. Perry, you sly son of a b****.
With 10:13 to go, and on the 4-on-4, the Stars had yet to make a shot on goal. The momentum begun to swing at this point as Jamie Benn sped through the neutral zone intent on changing the period stats. But a well-timed bump by Lovejoy allowed Andrew Cogliano to try an opposite breakaway attempt. Without missing a beat, the Stars defender found Trevor Daley for a stretch pass, who rushed in alone and bulldozed past defending Luca Sbisa and swiped the puck past Andersen. The Stars were back on top 4-2, and for the second time in Dallas in a row, Andersen's night was cut short as Jonas Hiller came in as relief. In an unusual show of the usually-calm and collected Andersen headed toward the locker room angry and frustrated.
Hiller did not have any time to take in the view from the ice as Eakin tested him off the face-off. A turnover by Maroon led to a breakaway by the speedy Seguin. The Ducks found themselves shorthanded once again after Lovejoy committed the trip to stop the bleeding. Fortunately for the floundering Ducks, Hiller was back to his regular season form as he made good stops and limited rebound opportunities. It did not take long for the Ducks to pay for the lack of disciplined play, as Fowler was next to head to the penalty box on a cross-checking call on Antoine Roussel (who fell quite hard very easily, if I may add.) Eakin was dangerous all through out the night and the PP was no exception. Goligosky barely missed the trickling puck off Eakin's aggressive wraparound.
The Selanne-Rakell-DSP line was by far the most effective on creating a forecheck against the speedy Stars. Rakell also had an opportunity to score on the rebound off DSP's wraparound. With the exception of this line, the Stars once again regained dominance of the puck by exploiting the defensive miscues of the rather flatfooted Ducks. Fistric's mistimed pinch allowed Cole to find Valerie Nichushkin alone down the ice for a breakaway attempt. Outskating the slow Bryan Allen, Nichushkin's bid was only stopped by Hiller's equally aggressive positioning in front of his net. With only four seconds left, Maroon sat in the box for a tripping call against the very same Nichushkin.
While the period began well for the Ducks, the Ducks headed back to the locker room in the same place coming in...2 goals down and a man short for the PK.
Third Period Recap: A hole on top of the goal caused a small delay to the start of the third period, as maintenance replaced goal with a the warm-up net.
The Ducks began the period with a solid penalty kill. But not even 3 minutes into play, both Perry and Garbutt headed towards the penalty box for hooking and diving respectively. Down two goals, the Ducks' aggressive forecheck forced the Dallas Stars into making turnovers in their defensive zone and the neutral zone. Despite the early pressure, the Ducks' play looked lackluster due to reckless passing, small mistakes, and a lack of urgency. At one point in the period, Bruce Boudreau split up the Twins hoping to spark some offense throughout the lines. But among the Ducks, Teemu Selanne shined brightest as he was often seen aggressively streaking down along the right boards in search of a shooting lane.
At about this time, the Dallas fans turned their "Hiller" chants to "Perry Sucks" chants. Reunited again on the same line, Perry-Getzlaf-Beleskey did find extended periods of time in the offensive zone. But no dice.
In an unlikely scuffle, Cogliano and Chiasson earned themselves 2 minutes of roughing after throwing down gloves and shoving each other a bit. With only 2:26 left and a 4-on-4 play, Bruce Boudreau pulled a Patrick Roy and emptied the net. The lackluster play all of sudden found life as Anaheim fought to keep the puck within the offensive zone. Perry moved the puck along the boards to Bonino behind the net. Bonino skated up the and fired the puck top shelf short side, right under the crossbar. 4-3, and just like that, the Ducks were back in the game.
The Ducks were relentless. Selanne looked for the shot. Keeping the puck alive, Fowler nearly deflected Lovejoy's shot from up top. Lehtonen beat Beleskey to the loose puck caused by Perry's bid. Getzlaf patiently skated from one side to another looking for a shooting lane through traffic before he threw the puck on net.
With 41.6 seconds left on the clock, Bonino won the face-off and the big boys began to do their work by just throwing the puck on net. With less than 30 seconds left, Perry attacked the net. Perry, Beauchemin, Bonino and the Stars defense collapsed in front of Lehtonen--all looking for the loose puck. With all the chaos in front of him, Lehtonen sprawled on his back, losing his stick in the process. Meanwhile, DSP patiently stood a little off to Lehtonen's right side, waiting for the rebound to come along. And lo and behond, he watched the loose puck come from under Lehtonen and simply wristed it over Lehtonen's body. BOOM. 4-4.
As the clock winded down, the Ducks continued to hold possession and pressure the stunned Stars. And in playoff hockey fashion, it only took about two minutes to come back from behind and get the first overtime of the series.
OVERTIME (aka WHEN SHIT GOES DOWN PERIOD): The Stars quickly rushed into the Ducks zone in an attempt to counter the momentum that shifted towards the Ducks' favor in the last two minutes of the last period. The Stars first attempted to strike when the puck bounced off Daniel Winnik's skate and hit the goal post.
But the Ducks soon regained possession and buzzed around the Dallas net, beginning with Cogliano and Maroon working the boards. Cogliano patiently skated up from behind the net looking for a centering pass to Bonino who skated towards the slot. Lehtonen missed the pass and stood no chance on Bonino's shot. Dallas was stunned, and the boys in white jumped over the boards and celebrated.
In a stunning finish, the Ducks came up from behind, scored two goals in the final minutes of the third period, and capped it off with a Nick Bonino wrister in overtime.
The Good: "THE COMEBACK KIDS." "DUCKS FLY TOGETHER." "GAME SIX DONE RIGHT." "UNFINISHED BUSINESS." Whatever you want to call it--we are headed to Round Two! Talk about resilience. The win will do wonders to boost the Ducks' confidence and spark the offensive threat throughout the four lines. Round Two should be a ball.
The Bad: The Dallas Stars were up 4-2. In the last remaining 3 minutes, the Anaheim Ducks managed to wreak absolute havoc in front of their goaltender Kari Lehtonen. To top it all off, the Stars were literally inches off from winning Game 6 when the puck hit the post in overtime. But alas, the hockey gods did not have it written for the Stars to go on....
The Ugly: Let's just be honest....most of the game with the exception of the first half of the second period, the last couple minutes of the third period, the game was flat out ugly. The first 20 minutes were probably filled with Duck fans groaning in disgust and face-palming at the slow and sloppy play by the Ducks. The Ducks need to really clean up their play in the defensive zone as well as the neutral zone if they hope to continue on their quest through the next round. Specifically, the inability to quickly gather the loose pucks and clear the zone is clearly a problem that Bruce will want to address going into Round 2. Whether Anaheim faces LA or San Jose, playing messy and hoping to catch up is not the way. The Ducks will have to address tightening up on defense in the next round. Fortunately, neither LA or SJ are as quick as Dallas, but they are much more skilled and disciplined. Games 3 and 5 showed flashes of discipline and brilliant puck possession. Bruce and the coaching staff will have to go back to the videos to review that with the boys for the next round. Buckle up, because it's going to be a clash of the California heavyweights.
Honorable Mention: We have to give a nod to Jonas Hiller. Though he came in to relieve Freddie Andersen in the middle of the game, Hiller came up with some big stops during the latter half of the second period. He looked confident in his crease and looked eager to prove that he deserved this chance. He sure shut up the "Hiller" chants quickly with his big stops.
Next Game: ROUND TWO B****!!! Back at the HONDA CENTER!!!! TBA!