Did he feel the love?
"Yeah, I loved it. I embraced it," Ryan Kesler said Tuesday afternoon.
All that was missing was a sneer. The Ducks center still relished the role of Winnipeg heartbreaker a day after his third-period goal erased a late Jets' lead and enabled the Ducks to apply the dagger in a 5-4 overtime victory in Game 3 of a playoff series.
They lead the series, 3-0, by virtue of three third-period comebacks. Game 4 is Wednesday night at MTS Centre. Kesler engineered Monday's rally and another hated Duck, forward Corey Perry, sparked the Game 1 victory in Anaheim with a four-point effort. Perry also scored once Monday.
There was some old-fashioned hate directed at Kesler, an American and former Vancouver Canuck, and chanting — "Katy Perry" — at Perry, a Canadian.
Said Perry: "You hear what's going on and it puts a smile on your face, whatever. It gets you involved. They're involved. It was loud in here. It was a great building last night."
Let's put it this way: In the playoffs, the good folks of Winnipeg aren't going to dwell on the fact Perry helped Canada win two Olympic gold medals.
But back to Kesler …
"It seems everywhere in Canada we go, they're saying something bad about him," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I'm going to have to ask him about what he did to this poor country.
"Some guys like it. Corey Perry feeds off it when you start getting on him. He loves that. I guess Ryan is the same way."
The mantra should be "Bring It On."
"It brings my game to the next level," Kesler said. "It gets me going even when I didn't feel I had that much early on and that definitely got me going. "
The Jets can't avoid this daunting statistic: Only four NHL teams have rallied from a 3-0 series deficit, but one did unfold not far from Anaheim last year. The Kings dropped the first three games to the San Jose Sharks in the first round, rallied and went on to win the Stanley Cup.
It is one of those things the Ducks coaching staff wouldn't even need to mention.
"I would think it happened so close to them that everybody on our team knew what happened last year," Boudreau said. "I didn't bring anything up. But at the same time, we know you have to win four. Winning three isn't the right thing. It's not like we're going to take it easy. We're going to keep going as hard as we can because we know how tough this team has been hard to beat."
The Jets, naturally, are focusing on smaller increments.
"You look at the big picture and it might seem overwhelming but that's one thing about our team, we've been able to focus on one game all year and pour everything we have into it," Jets forward Blake Wheeler said.
For the second consecutive day, Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was under scrutiny. On Monday, he hit Perry from behind after Perry scored and received a two-minute minor penalty, but managed to escape supplemental discipline from the NHL. His effect on the series has been marginal — no points and a minus-three in Game 3.
Then Byfuglien met the media Tuesday and did his best imitation of the NFL's tight-lipped Marshawn Lynch, giving nearly the same answer to every question, even one about hitting Perry. This left his coach, Paul Maurice, to deal with the aftermath and Maurice did his best in a fascinating back-and-forth with the media, saying of his player, "We love him."
"The fact that he didn't tell you how he really felt, I think, is mature. I'm not winning this argument," Maurice said. "I'll get killed for that. I don't care.