Final Score: Ducks 5 - Jets 4 (OT)
Chart courtesy www.war-on-ice.com
With the MTS Centre rocking and the Winnipeg faithful seeing their first dose of playoff hockey since Nikolai Khabibulin tended the nets for the original Jets, the Ducks came out cautiously taking multiple icings and Frederik Andersen holding for face offs to try and slow the tempo of the game. The Jets got the first four shots of the game, and it was the Anaheim fourth line of Tomas Fleischmann (drawing in to replace an injured Chris Wagner) centering with Emerson Etem and Tim Jackman that got the first chance of the game for the Ducks.
Ryan Getzlaf struggled for much of the night offensively to the tune of a forward corps worst -7 shot attempt differential, but did get an early opportunity on a wrap around five minutes in to the game that Ondrej Pavelec denied with the paddle down at the far post. Winnipeg celebrated a playoff goal for the first time since April 28, 1996 when Norm Maciver beat Mike Vernon in a 4-1 loss in game six of the Western Conference Quarterfinal as Lee Stempniak jumped on a rebound that Adam Lowry centered off a Jacob Trouba point shot to give the hosts a 1-0 lead just 22 seconds before the midway mark of the period.
The teams traded chances with Dustin Byfuglien's shot from the line getting caught in traffic, but bouncing to Bryan Little for a chance that had Andersen down and out in the splits but was fired wide right. Getzlaf set up Patrick Maroon in front of the net for an opportunity, outmuscling Michael Frolik but knocking the Jets forward into the post and the net off its moorings as the puck laid in the slot in front of Pavelec.
Maroon drew the first penalty of the game as Trouba reached around him to try and fish a puck free along the end boards in the Winnipeg defensive zone, then hauling the big dog down as Corey Perry tried reversing the puck around to the opposite corner. The power play was of no consequence, as the Ducks failed to register a shot or much of any zone time.
In the final minute Andersen came way out of his crease to attempt a poke check to deny an opportunity for Little, but was forced to make a nifty glove save. Anaheim equalized in the embers of the period as both Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano caused chaos on the forecheck, creating a turnover that lead to Cam Fowler snapping a shot off the post and in from the far face off dot with just 6.4 seconds left to knot the score 1-1 at intermission.
The hosts held a 12-7 shots on goal advantage after 20 minutes, holding a narrow 16-14 attempts advantage and with one more scoring chance at 8-7. Defenseman Adam Pardy had the best shot attempt and unblocked attempt differential for the Jets at +4 and +3, while Cogliano was on ice the most of both at +4 each for the Ducks.
In the early goings Hampus Lindholm took the first penalty of the game for the white shirts, getting his stick up high on Mark Scheifele as Perry circled out of the corner with the puck. Anaheim worked a breakaway while down a man as Ryan Kesler spotted Silfverberg for a breakaway with a stretch pass, but Pavelec remained vertical to make a glove save on the incursion from the right side. The Ducks killed the penalty, and got another odd man rush with Etem and Cogliano breaking in two-on-one, but the Long Beach-born winger's shot was denied and held by the blocker arm.
Anaheim took their first lead of the game with nearly 3:30 played when Perry took a pretty pass from Lindholm across the slot and made no mistake, putting the visitors ahead 2-1 and taking a cheap shot punch to the head from Byfuglien that knocked him to the ice as he began to celebrate. The post-goal physicality gave Anaheim another power play, but after Fowler had a cross slot chance that Pavelec blockered aside it was mooted with five seconds remaining when the Ducks were caught with too many men.
Once more the game returned to level terms at the 6:40 mark when Andersen made an initial stop, but a failed clearance set up Tyler Myers for a shot from the line that deflected off Simon Despres and in with Frolik supplying a screen to make it 2-2 on the power play tally. The Jets reassumed the lead just under three minutes later when Drew Stafford gloved a puck down in the far circle and whiffed on a shot, but Blake Wheeler snuck in and popped it top shelf for a 3-2 Winnipeg lead.
Off the ensuing draw the Ducks nearly muted the celebration as a Lindholm shot created a rebound for Rickard Rakell, but he clanked the iron and was unable to get to the ensuing ricochet. Andersen kept the deficit at one by denying a Jiri Tlusty chance with the right pad after Clayton Stoner lost the puck off his skate in the neutral zone just past the midway mark. Anaheim again got an odd man chance thanks to the Jets out of position looking for a hit, forcing Byfuglien to haul down Kesler for a power play opportunity that bore no fruit.
With just under four minutes remaining Matt Beleskey delivered a thunderous check in the offensive zone, leading to a turnover by Pardy. Kesler scooped it up then passed a bullet across the slot for Silfverberg, who roofed it to tie the game once more at 3-3. It was short lived though as a mere 2:14 later Fowler tried to clear up the middle of the defensive zone and put it right on the tape for Little, who picked the upper shelf to give the Jets the 4-3 lead they'd take to the dressing room.
Again Winnipeg saw the better of both shot attempts (21-18) and scoring chances (11-8) as the teams finished with 13 shots aside in the period. Little and Andrew Ladd were the major offensive drivers for the hosts, a period high +7 in unblocked shot attempts, while Rakell was best for the OC boys at +5.
The final frame was contested cautiously for the first eight minutes or so, with Cogliano getting the first real quality chance with 11:40 remaining by deflecting a shot that Pavelec denied. Near the midway mark the Winnipeg crowd began a chant of "Katy Perry" with the worm Perry on the ice, turning much of Twitter against them and even going as far as making Kings fans acknowledge that neutrals had been turned in Anaheim's favor.
Boudreau hit the line blender afterward, trying Fleischmann and Etem with Kesler despite Cogliano and Silfverberg spending much of the game with him. Beleskey crashed the net on a rebound off a Pavelec save with Rakell centering it and getting a deflection that forced a stick save with under eight minutes to play.
Nearing four minutes remaining the Ducks had a opportunity following an icing, but Winnipeg won the draw and were able to clear. Byfuglien bounced the puck free at the Jets blue line that sprung a two-on-one opportunity, but the shot sailed wide. Moments later Cogliano again won a puck in the offensive zone for Silfverberg, who spotted Kesler all alone at the far post and zipped him a cross slot pass that the second line center made no mistake with and silenced the early chants of "Kesler sucks" for the game tying 4-4 marker with 2:14 left.
The Ducks would spend the final 1:49 on the penalty kill as Sami Vatanen lifted the puck out of play while under pressure in the near corner of the defensive zone from Stempniak and Lowry, forcing some good fortune and better goaltending to send the game to an extra session. Little grazed the outside of the post with a shot from the near faceoff dot with 81 seconds to play, then 20 seconds later Andersen denied him with a larcenous glove save sliding across the crease in the splits to snag the wrist shot following Ladd's cross-slot pass.
Andersen's heroics helped send the game to overtime, as Winnipeg again held the edge on the shot counter at 9-7 for the period and in scoring chances also at 9-7, while the Ducks out-attempted by an 18-17 mark.
Anaheim began by killing the remaining 11 seconds of power play time, then Jackman got a chance following an Etem redirect of a point shot with nearly three minutes played. Jackman had his turnaround backhander shrugged high by Pavelec as the Ducks buzzed. Getzlaf and Perry built on it, with Getzlaf's shot caroming in front to Perry, but his rebound opportunity was sent sailing over the top.
Finally Cogliano again forced a Winnipeg defensive zone turnover, leading to a far point shot from Francois Beauchemin that Rakell got a stick on at the bottom of the circle to redirect between the wickets of Pavelec and earn the Ducks the 5-4 overtime win and a home crowd silencing 3-0 series lead.
The Ducks dictated play in overtime following the penalty kill, outshooting their foes by a 4-1 mark. On the game the Jets saw a 35-31 shot advantage, and the physical contest tilted in their favor as well at 61 hits to 44. Yet Rakell's first career playoff game winning goal and only the second NHL gamer he's scored gives the Ducks their first 3-0 playoff series lead since the opening round of 2007 against Minnesota.
Good: We've long sung the praises of Rakell here (and deservedly so), but how about the play of Cogliano and Silfverberg in addition? Depth scoring is the name of the game in advancing in the playoffs, and the duo had three points apiece to pace Anaheim for the game. Rakell silencing the 'loudest 15,000 fans in the league' was a pretty sweet moment too.
Bad: While Fowler's giveaway up the middle that lead to the Jets fourth goal stands out the starkest, the Ducks were noticeably sloppier with the puck and were marked with 13 giveaways after having just nine in each of the first two games. At some point it'd be nice to see the Ducks hold a lead entering the third period, because while superior talent can carry the team over the likes of the Jets, needing to regularly climb that hill deeper in the playoffs is asking for trouble.
Ugly: While it wasn't Dale Hunter on Pierre Turgeon level despicable, Byfuglien's cheap shot on Perry after he scored the Ducks second goal is yet another on the list of detestable things the Jets defender has done. Also, someone should let the folks in Winnipeg know it's 2015, and sexist chants deriding a player by calling him a woman's name aren't cool.
3rd MVD: Rickard Rakell - Yes he scored the overtime game-winning goal, and yes, he was his usual play driving self with the best shot attempt differential on the team at +10 at even strength. Were it not for the performance of the next two players, he'd certainly be higher on this list.
2nd MVD: Andrew Cogliano - Not only did he assist on three of the Ducks goals, not only did he have the second most hits amongst forwards with four, not only was he a grade A pest on the forecheck, not only did he play the second most shorthanded minutes amongst forwards with 2:25... The list goes on and on with the positive impact Cogliano hand on the game for the Ducks, and includes a team high +12 unblocked shot attempt differential at even strength. He saw the majority of his minutes against the likes of Byfuglien, Scheifele, Wheeler and Stafford and helped hold the quartet to just one even strength assists between them and three of the four to negative shot attempt differentials.
1st MVD: Jakob Silfverberg - Folks have derided Silfverberg for not producing at the levels of Bobby Ryan since his acquisition from Ottawa, but performances like tonight are exactly what the Ducks had in mind when they acquired him. His goal and two assists tied him for a game high three points, and his two way play was vital in creating numerous turnovers on the forecheck and turning play. It's telling that Boudreau played him for 9:05 of his 17:53 of ice time during the third period and overtime- with the game on the line he saw more action in those two sessions than any forward save Kesler. He and Cogliano were absolutely rolling tonight, and the duo played the biggest role in helping the Ducks escape with a third consecutive win in the series.
Game Four: Wednesday, April 22 at MTS Centre, 6:30 PT