With a chance to take a 3-1 lead in the series, the Ducks short circuited instead and found themselves tied with Dallas after a 4-2 loss on Wednesday night.
If the game had only been 20 minutes long, things would have been just fine. But they are a full 60 minutes long.
Despite being without captain Ryan Getzlaf, who missed the game with the nebulous “upper body injury,” they still came out with a 2-0 lead in the first period.
Goals from defenseman Bryan Allen, his first ever playoff goal, and Patrick Maroon, gave the Ducks their first lead in Dallas.
The wheels came off in the second period.
Dallas outshot Anaheim 16 – 3 and tied up the game with goals from Jamie Benn and Vernon Fiddler. Goaltender Frederik Andersen looked more than a little shaky, and coach Bruce Boudreau probably should have pulled him at that point.
“After the second goal, I certainly did [think about pulling Andersen],” said Boudreau. “I told [Jonas Hiller] to get ready because I didn’t think [Andersen] was that sharp. In the third period I just thought it was time.”
Even if Boudreau had put in Hiller, you still have to credit the Stars for turning things around in the game.
“I just said I wasn’t happy,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I thought we got outworked. I thought we weren’t playing smart enough and it was our turn to answer and I think that group in there answered the bell. It’s not often we get out worked but there was some situations where some of it was smarts and some of it was getting outworked. I thought after that, the last 40 was as hard as the boys could go. They emptied the tank.”
Goals from Cody Eakin and Alex Goligoski in the third period came 1:22 apart. After Goligoski’s goal, Andersen was done and Jonas Hiller got his first taste of the playoffs.
“I just need to have a short memory,” said Andersen, who had 20 saves. “I need to be ready for the next game back in Anaheim, and that’s what I’m focusing on.”
The series now becomes a best of three, with the teams returning to Anaheim for Game 5 on Friday evening.
Whether or not Getzlaf will be back in the line up remains questionable but the hope is that he will able to rejoin the line up.
Teemu Selanne was also missing in Game 4, a healthy scratch, something that Boudreau knew would not be well received by fans, but felt it was the right decision to make.
Now is the time to step up, because with the series tied, Game 5 is the tipping point. Someone will be one win away from moving on. And someone will be one loss away from golfing.
“We’re glad to go back in front of our fans,” said Mathieu Perreault, who had a chance to retake the lead in the second were it not for a goalpost strike. “We’ve been good at home all year. We need to come out hard. We have to play Ducks hockey and stick together. We have two home games. We’re still positive.”