It was easy to overlook the
But from the moment he was paired with
"The first game, I think we had a good chemistry," Despres said. "Sometimes you can't explain it."
No long explanation is necessary. Their performances Thursday at the United Center illustrated why Despres has become so valuable to the Ducks and why he and Fowler are so effective together, with each contributing in many ways to the 2-1 victory that gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead over the
Despres led the Ducks in ice time at 23 minutes and 26 seconds and was credited with the game-winning goal when he took a pass from Ryan Getzlaf — who had gotten a pass from Fowler — and rifled a one-timer from the right circle past Chicago goaltender
Despres, a left-handed shooter who has been playing the right side, downplayed his offensive exploits and credited teammate Corey Perry for distracting Crawford on his goal. "I'm not a goal-scorer. I just tried to hit the net and get it off as quick as possible," Despres said of his ice-skimming shot.
But he took justifiable pride in being sent out by Coach
"I like the confidence from the coach to put me out there," Despres said. "I do my best to keep it that way and work hard and block shots and be a good defensive player. I'm a big guy and I have a long reach and I try to use that to my advantage."
"Nothing against Lovie," Cogliano said of Lovejoy. "Lovie was a good player. Lovie was a very useful player for a long time. He did a great job for us. But Des, he's a good player and I think he has a little bit more room to grow. I don't think he's reached his full potential. He's big. He battles hard. He's got a good stick. He could play physical at the right time.
"I think it was fitting for him to get a goal tonight because I think he was, I don't want to say due, but he had good enough opportunities. And he's been playing really good."
Fowler credited their success to their strong relationship and innate feeling for the game.
"I think our style of play kind of complements one another," Fowler said. "Skating is a big part of Des' game. He's a big, physical kid who can impose his will on some of their skilled guys. He has the ability to join the rush whenever he has the opportunity and that's also a big part of my game, so I think we have a good understanding with one another about when it's time to go and maybe when it's time to sit back and make sure we're solid defensively."
They were more than solid Thursday. Because of that, the Ducks were able to gain new life less than two days after a triple-overtime loss in Game 2 that could have deflated and derailed them.
"It's been a good run so far," Despres said. "We haven't done anything yet. We want to get to the top."
If they get there, it will be because their acquisition of Despres proved to be a much bigger move than it seemed at the time.