Final Score: Anaheim Ducks 3, Calgary Flames 2 (OT)
The first few minutes of Game 5 resembled a good old-fashioned bag skate, as the two teams were going from one end of the ice to the other and back again with no noteworthy action taking place. As was expected, Calgary came out with a chip on their shoulders, and players such as Lance Bouma were not afraid to get a little rowdy with their (mostly) larger counterparts. The early flaring of attitudes was kept in check by the refs as Patrick Maroon and Deryk Engelland got sent off with offsetting penalties after getting into it a little bit following a Karri Ramo freeze.
On the ensuing four-on-four, birthday boy Ryan Getzlaf got Ramo to commit to him before sending the puck down low to Cam Fowler. His wraparound attempt looked promising when he was already halfway across the net before Ramo could begin his recovery slide, but Cam America's urgency to finish ended with him jamming the puck into the post instead of the net. Also of note, TJ Brodie got worked by Nate Thompson. Nothing came of it, but we didn't know you had it in ya, Nate!
The Ducks' zone time continued to elapse, but Calgary's first opportunity to bite back paid dividends for them. While trying to cycle the puck through their speedsters, the Flames drew the first power play of the night. Ryan Kesler took a few minutes for high-sticking while he was in the process of sticking Sean Monahan to the glass, but two quickly turned into four when Monahan skated away with red stains of blood on his jersey. Thanks to faceoff wins and quick clears, the first minor was killed easily. Shortly after the second began, though, Jiri Hudler got a little extra space above the left faceoff circle, and he cocked back and let a shot fly that cleanly beat Frederik Andersen's blocker. While Anaheim literally drew first blood, Calgary laid claim to the all-important ice-breaking goal. Flames 1, Ducks 0
It didn't take long for the Ducks to get a chance to draw even. During a Flame rush after a defensive zone faceoff win, Joe Colborne, coming in hot through the slot, elected to throw Hampus Lindholm into the net. The stripes, understandably, weren't fans of that play, and sent the Calgary offender off for interference. The two-minute advantage played out identically to the first half of Kesler's double minor: bad passes and just enough pressure allowed Calgary to easily regain possession and throw the puck away until Colborne was released.
A sense of deja vu was felt as the period continued. The Ducks began to push hard with an extended possession in Ramo's end, and Calgary's first response resulted in an Anaheim penalty. Simon Despres was penalized for holding Colborne, and his team finally initiated the two-minute timer after a great backdoor save by Andersen on Bouma allowed his team to touch up and end the delayed penalty advantage that Calgary held on to. A majority of their threatening looks failed to clear the traffic in front of Andersen, including a shorthanded chance from Andrew Cogliano via Ryan Getzlaf, the nets on both ends of the ice stayed clean during the duration of the penalty. Immediately after Despres was released, it was the Ducks' turn to play with an extra man after Johnny Gaudreau was caught hooking Sami Vatanen. A few decent chances in the waning seconds proved to be fruitless, but on the bright side, 29 seconds were left over in Anaheim's second power play for them to begin the second period with. Although the Ducks held the shot advantage, 12-9, the Flames skated off after the first with the lead that mattered: 1-0.
With less than half a minute of time remaining in Gaudreau's penalty, the Ducks knew they had no time to waste as soon as the puck dropped. Getzlaf won the faceoff and the Ducks quickly proceeded to enter the zone and look for a chance. Another shot block by Kris Russell (adding to his two from the first) foiled a good initial shot, and Ramo held his ground in the following scrum in front of him. Maroon had a chance to cash in on a backdoor rebound as the power play expired, but he couldn't make contact with the puck and so the score remained 1-0.
The Ducks continued their push with another long possession without many looks. When Calgary finally cleared the zone by way of a Colborne blocked shot on Vatanen, they took another penalty upon Anaheim re-entry. Colborne very unsubtly held up Lindholm as he was trying to cross the blue line, and he was sent on his not-so-merry way back to the box. The Calgary penalty killers continued to stifle the Ducks by blocking shots left and right, but the men in black finally broke through. After picking up the puck behind the net, Jakob Silfverberg tossed the puck in front of the net to Kesler, who let go of a nasty one-timer that bounced off either the goal camera or back pipe and ricocheted quickly off the net. After clearing up any initial confusion, the goal was ruled good and the game was once again even. Ducks 1, Flames 1
Just like in Game 4, it took almost no time for Calgary to answer. Just 56 seconds later, the Flames got a possession of their own in Freddie's end. A centering pass from Hudler was deflected by Getzlaf into the slot. Waiting above the hashmarks was Gaudreau, who promptly got off a wrister that found its way past Andersen's glove and into the back of the net for his fourth goal of the playoffs. Flames 2, Ducks 1
Anaheim continued to fight for another tying goal, increasing the gap on possession and zone time. Shot blocks and a couple whiffs ensured the prevention of Anaheim goal number two, and its priority was put on hold altogether for a couple of minutes when Lindholm gave Sam Bennett a nice little cross-check to the back. The penalty was killed off easily, and Silfverberg even came close to getting a jump on a breakaway, but he lost control of the puck as he crossed the blue line.
Shortly after the penalty expired, one of the last things Ducks fans would want to see unfolded out on the ice: Corey Perry got hurt. Matt Stajan decided to step into the playoff's leading scorer and ended up taking out his knee, and #10 hobbled off to the locker room as the black and orange faithful everywhere held their breath hoping for the best. On first blush it appeared to be a knee on knee hit, but after further review it was more Stajan's hip on Perry's thigh, although Perry's knee definitely still took the brunt of it, as you can see in the gif below for about one frame if you focus on his foot.
here's a super slowed down look at his knee...good thing he is okay pic.twitter.com/a6fOAJTu26— Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) May 11, 2015
This one shows it a little better:
GIF: another look pic.twitter.com/c2I3Gj0OUF— Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) May 11, 2015
[Ed. Note: If you're not following Stehpanie Vail (@myregularface) on twitter you're doing it all wrong. -CK]
As predicted, a scrum ensued, and when the dust settled, Clayton Stoner and Micheal Ferland were sent to their respective penalty boxes. After a relatively uneventful four-on-four session, Gumby Perry returned to the ice during a dead puck to test out his knee (and have a word with the officials) to cheers of Honda Center.
Seeing the resilience of their teammate must have energized the home team, because in the final minute of the second period, the Ducks unleashed an absolutely rabid push. Kesler had a couple of solid chances to tie the game, one of which would have made for a good-looking SportsCenter highlight after he danced around Ramo and nearly tucked the puck behind him. For the icing on the cake, Mikael Backlund was called for a slash on the Cap'n amidst the chaos, and since the Flames failed to touch the puck before the horn, the Ducks had a full two-minute power play to begin the third. Anaheim ended the second with an impressive 26-14 shot advantage, but it wasn't reflective of the score, a 2-1 count in favor of Calgary.
Although it took a little bit of time to get the power play set in the offensive zone, the Ducks made sure that they made the Flames pay for the events that transpired at the end of the second. Beauchemin wound up and let a shot go from the blue line, and team hotshot Matt Beleskey got his stick on the puck, redirecting it from the slot just under the crossbar. Beleskey's fifth goal in the last five games set a new Anaheim playoff record, and more importantly, gave them the tie early in the final regulation period, and if you're a big believer in karma, well, there you go. Ducks 2, Flames 2
With the momentum from the last minute of the second coupled with their early third period goal, the Ducks continued to lean into the spellbound Flames. Any potential possession from Calgary was ended quickly and returned with a Duck rush and shot on Ramo. Just six minutes into the period, Anaheim was outshooting the Flames by an 8-1 margin, and the balance only continued to tip more and more to one side. The first sign of life from Calgary didn't make itself known until halfway through the period, and even then, it was more of an accumulation of offensive zone time than anything else.
Even though the icing calls against the Flames continued to pile up, the Ducks began to miss more passes, allowing Calgary some opportunities to bring the puck back the other way. With 4:11 left in regulation, Bruce Boudreau called a timeout to get his guys in the right mindset to put that final nail in the coffin, and the immediate result almost was a breakaway. Dennis Wideman broke his stick on a shot attempt, and Matt Beleskey took off the other way without the puck. The outlet pass was off its mark, however, and Wideman was able to box out Beleskey for the biscuit until help arrived.
The Ducks continued their relentless assault as time grew thin, but it was the Flames who got the last chance of regulation. In the last few ticks of the third, Matt Stajan (of all people) cut across the slot and let a backhand go that stopped the hearts of many during a relatively buzzer-beater heavy playoff, but Andersen kicked the chance away with the right pad. Free hockey would officially cap off the night as regulation came to a close with a 2-2 tie (obviously), but the Ducks held a massive shot advantage to the tune of 40-19 by benefit of a strong third.
As expected, the Ducks came out in the extra frame guns blazing. The game, and series, was almost closed out very shortly into the fourth period when Ryan Kesler found himself with a sharp angle and a wide open net. A desperate David Schlemko dove across the goalmouth with Ramo. The puck hit at least one of them before ringing off the post, and it didn't take long for Matt Beleskey to follow up with a breakaway chance that Ramo foiled. It became ever so evident at this point that it was only a matter of time until the Ducks sunk the dagger.
And they did.
Not even two and a half minutes into overtime, a long-range shot from Cam Fowler created pandemonium in front of the net, and as Ramo was sprawled across the blue paint, a stick got hold of the loose puck and slid it past the Calgary netminder. The credited goal scorer? Corey Perry.
Justice in its finest form.
Ducks 3, Flames 2
Ducks win series 4-1
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The Good: Well, the Ducks are going to the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2007. That's pretty good! A big part of that was due to absolutely dominant play beginning with a minute left in the second period. When the Ducks play like that, it's tough to find a team that can hang with them. That's the effort they'll need against the Blackhawks, and it'll sure make for some fun hockey when these two teams are butting heads at their best.
The Bad: On the flip side, the first period was better than it was in Game 4, but it still looked like Anaheim just lacked energy during those first 20. It's understandable that a team facing elimination will try to punch their opponents in the mouth right out of the gates, and they had a golden opportunity to do so with Kesler's double minor. No additional damage was done, which of course, is a good thing, but as Frederik Andersen would so eloquently put it, "we don't want to give them any hope." Especially against a team like Chicago, who will take a mile whenever you give them an inch, it's crucial to start these games strong.
The Ugly: Kick rocks, Matt Stajan. As subjective as I try to be when I'm writing these, I have a very hard time believing any argument that his play on Perry was accidental.
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3rd MVD: Ryan Kesler. He was guilty of the double minor that set up the Flames for their first goal, but he made amends by knotting the game up in the second. He had another dominant night in the faceoff circle too, winning 18 out of 22 of his draws. Not too shabby, Kes.
2nd MVD: Matt Beleskey. Beleskey. He's so hot right now! Five goals in five games with a couple of missed opportunities for number six. There's always that one depth guy for the Ducks that steps up whenever the Twins are contained. At the beginning of the playoffs, it was Jakob Silfverberg. Fortunately, he's still contributing, but Beleskey has just been going on a tear now.
1st MVD: Corey Perry. Off the Floor, On the Board v.2.0. The Worm has been ridiculous in this postseason, but none of his 15 points have been any bigger than his series-winner. For the sake of nostalgia:
Next Game: Western Conference Final vs Chicago Blackhawks @ Honda Center, time and date TBA