There was the dirty, unglamorous work, killing off a five-on-three advantage in the third period for 56 nerve-wracking seconds.
Those can be the turning points on the path to a series win, a steppingstone to a victory in a hostile setting. The Ducks did the latter in effective fashion as they clung to a one-goal lead on their way to defeating the Calgary Flames, 4-2, in a hard-hitting, action-filled Game 4 at Scotiabank Saddledome.
The game-winner came from left wing Matt Beleskey who scored his fourth goal in four games, from the slot on a rebound, making it 3-2, on the power play at 1:11 of the third with the assists going to forward Jakob Silfverberg and defenseman Francois Beauchemin. The Ducks’ final goal, an empty-netter, came from Patrick Maroon with 37 seconds remaining.
“You score four in a row — it feels good,” Beleskey said.
Not showing up on the scoresheet was the work done on the Beleskey goal in front by Ducks center Ryan Kesler, who nicely screened Flames goalie Karri Ramo. The Ducks were on the power play because of Flames forward Joe Colborne’s double minor for high sticking Beauchemin at the end of the second period.
And now, here is the big-picture outlook: The Ducks lead the series, three games to one. They can clinch the Western Conference semifinal at home Sunday in Game 5. Chicago has advanced to the Western Conference final, sweeping Minnesota.
“You can’t take anything away from them,” said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. “We took some penalties too … we were just able to get the kills and our goaltender made some big saves.”
Calgary had the two-man advantage in the third period when Kyle Palmieri went off for hooking Flames defenseman TJ Brodie and Andrew Cogliano went off for holding Johnny Gaudreau. Earlier, Cogliano had tied the game, 2-2, at 16:42 of the second period after he took advantage of a Gaudreau turnover.
But now, Cogliano was one unsettled forward as he sat and watched in the penalty box.
“It was huge. Those are big kills in the game,” Cogliano said. “Those are plays that make the playoffs and make you win. The guys did a great job. I was in the box, pretty nervous.”
Calgary Coach Bob Hartley lamented the lost opportunities on the two-man advantage. Looking forward, he said the mistakes made by Gaudreau on the Cogliano goal and the double-minor to Colborne will be learning experiences for the youngsters.
“I take full responsibility for that,” said Gaudreau. “It was a puck in front, I turned it up real quick and I didn’t see that guy [Cogliano] on the board side. Next thing I know, he picked my pocket and tied the game real quick. That was a little momentum shift there.”
Colborne also took responsibility.
“That’s on me,” he said. “That’s frustrating. I’m just trying to play on that line of being physical.”
Beleskey’s goal gave the Ducks the lead for the first time since early in the first period, the 3:58 mark when Silfverberg scored. The teams scored three goals in the opening 5:44, with Calgary taking a 2-1 lead, before things settled down.
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau thought his goalie, Frederik Andersen, was struggling until he made a sliding save on Gaudreau early in the second period.
“That was Freddie’s turning point for me because he looked shaky in the first period,” Boudreau said. “I was wondering how he was handling the pressure and then that save he made on Gaudreau — all of a sudden it was like a calmness come over him. And I thought for the rest of the game he was spectacular.”