When the Ducks again let up in the second period, when what promised to be another rout of the Calgary Flames turned into a nail-biter, goaltender Frederik Andersen was an island of composure in a noisy, orange-towel-waving sea of emotion.
The red-haired Dane had little to do in the first period Sunday while the Ducks controlled the play and threatened to pull off a second straight laugher in this Western Conference semifinal playoff series. But in the middle period, when the Flames regained their footing and the Ducks fell back into their old, bad habits while clinging to a one-goal lead, Andersen was there to save the puck and save his teammates, never ruffled, never flailing.
Never beaten, either, as he made 30 saves in the 3-0 victory that allowed the Ducks to sweep the first two games at Honda Center.
"He's Freddie," teammate Corey Perry said, as if that explained everything, and maybe it does.
"He's just calm back there," Perry added. "He lets the puck come to him. He makes the first stop and we clear the rebounds. We did a great job of that tonight."
Andersen wasn't even sure of being the playoff starter until John Gibson sustained a late-season injury that took the decision out of Coach Bruce Boudreau's hands. Now, he has his first career playoff shutout and holds a share of the franchise playoff record with six straight wins, matching the winning streaks assembled by J.S. Giguere in 2003 and Ilya Bryzgalov in 2006.
He has allowed one goal in two games, in the Ducks' series-opening 6-1 rout, and that stemmed from a defensive mistake by his teammates.
"It's been a couple weird games," said center Ryan Kesler, again a key figure all over the ice. "For us, we like the '1.' We like not letting them score, not letting them generate anything."
Andersen was the reason the Ducks were able to protect and eventually expand the 1-0 lead Matt Beleskey had given them at 7:27 of the first period, off a fine pass Kesler threaded through two defenders. Calgary took 12 shots at him in the middle period and nine in the third, often from dangerous areas. "We kind of sat back in the second, but we knew that they were going to come out and give us their best," Perry said. "We weathered the storm in the second period."
The storm didn't shake Andersen in the least.
"That's why he's such a good goalie. Even when we don't have our game and we're scrambling, he calms us all down by the way he plays," Kesler said. "He's not scrambling in there. He puts his body in front of the puck and calms everything down for us."
Andersen said he wasn't surprised the Flames intensified their efforts in the second period.
"They came a little bit harder. That's usually how it goes when you get dominated in a period — you come out really hard and try to change the momentum a little bit," he said.
"I think we stuck with it and kept working hard and kept trying to get the puck to the net. The [defense] played really well in front of me today. They blocked the tough shots and that helped me out and they were in the shooting lanes so I could see the puck…. There wasn't that much traffic to deal with because they boxed out really well."
Kesler said the Ducks fully expected the strong push they faced. "They threw a lot at Freddie but Freddie stood tall and threw up a zero for us," Kesler said.
Andersen was so calm afterward that it was difficult to tell whether he had won or lost, and maybe that's a good thing. The cliche about not getting to high after victories or too low after losses has more than a germ of truth to it, and the Ducks know they have a long way to go on this playoff trail.
But, thanks to Andersen, they've shown in this series that they can win a high-scoring game or a low-scoring game as long as Andersen is standing serenely behind them. If he wasn't grinning or jumping up and down to celebrate the Ducks' formidable 2-0 series lead, that's just not his style. It's the new version of doing the Freddie.
"I'm pretty happy with the first two games but it's all about the next game right now," he said. "We've got to be focused and be ready to play in a tough building up there and try to take a stranglehold on the series."