In the pivotal Game 5 of the playoff series between Anaheim and Dallas, penalties and the Ducks were the winners. If you thought this series was chippy and nasty, things got moved up a bar or two, with 121 combined penalty minutes between the two teams.
The most important number was the score, and the Ducks made sure to maintain their home advantage in the 6-2 victory that leaves them one win away from going to the second round.
Having captain Ryan Getzlaf return to the line up certainly boosted the team, as did having the home fan advantage.
Getzlaf had a goal and two assists in a game that he was listed as “questionable” to play in, due to an upper body injury that caused him to fly home early from Dallas and miss Game 4.
“Every time you get your captain back, it’s going to make you feel better,” said coach Bruce Boudreau. “It’s like your big brother is back. Guys felt a little more secure, and he came out and played a really great game, as well as the other guys.”
After leading the series 2-0, the Ducks encountered exceptional goaltending from Kari Lehtonen in Game 3, and experinced some lags in Game 4, which is why the series came back to Anaheim tied.
Let the Stars take the lead in the series, on their ice? Ducks said no way with a strong performance and a rebound from goaltender Frederik Andersen, who had 34 saves.
“He made the saves he had to make at the right time,” Boudreau said. “When they were pushing and it was 2-1 or 3-2, he stood tall. That’s what good goalies do. I’m happy for him that he was able to come back in a tough atmosphere and do what he did.”
Superb penalty killing and finding ways to score power play goals (four), which is a playoff record for the Ducks, was also key.
“I thought I got better as the game went on,” said Getzlaf. “I felt more and more comfortable. The crowd was unbelievable. Everything was fired right up. They give us so much energy when we come out and we have that kind of support with us.”
The Ducks opened the scoring with a power play goal from Nick Bonino at 5:32 of the first period.
Dallas had an opportunity to tie things up, but Jordie Benn’s goal was disallowed due to an overly high stick knocking the puck in the net. Benn’s brother, Jamie, did tie up the game at 10:00 even with a shorthanded goal due to a poor turnover by Getzlaf. But Rickard Rakell got his first NHL goal, another power play goal for the Ducks, just :26 seconds later, tipping in Francois Beauchemin’s shot from the blue line.
Why was Dallas short handed? Because Ryan Garbutt decided to continue his antics in Game 5 and made the exceptionally poor decision to spear Corey Perry, a little below the belt. Garbutt got thrown from the game (and a nice fine from the NHL on Saturday), and the Ducks capitalized on the five minute major.
“Garbutt is a hard-nosed player,” said Shawn Horcoff. “He is important to our team and we obviously need him on the ice. I think he is going to learn a valuable lesson from that. We’ll move on from that.”
The Ducks were more than happy to have Garbutt off the ice.
Anaheim made it 3-1 with another power play goal at 1:05 of the second period. Mathieu Perreault was assisted by Getzlaf on the play, which was the result of the second goaltender interference call on the Stars.
Horcoff brought Dallas back within one goal at 8:19, but that was all that Dallas was able to muster. The rest of the way it was all Ducks.
In the third period, Anaheim exploded for three unanswered goals in four shots to make it unattainable for Dallas.
Jakob Silfverberg got the ball rolling at 1:07 into the period. Then Getzlaf scored at 4:30 to make it 5-2. At that point, Lehtonen was replaced by Tim Thomas, who did not fare much better.
Dallas remained undisciplined, taking yet another penalty, and Perry made it 6-2 at 6:49.
“Tonight, to get a big goal to start the period and get Lehtonen out of the net was a big confidence boost for us,” said Andrew Cogliano. “It was a picture-perfect third period for us.”
If things had been chippy and nasty before, they disintegrated with 12:20 remaining. A huge brawl resulted in 11 penalties between the two teams, including four misconducts.
“It’s about maintaining our focus,” Getzlaf said. “When we got to Dallas last time, we got a little revved up and got into some things that weren’t part of our game. Tonight, we did a better job of focusing on what we need to do, and we need to do that next game.”
Game 6 is Sunday evening in Dallas. The Ducks have a great opportunity to end the series, but they need to play their game and not get sucked into the cheap shots and stupidity.