Corey Perry seemed to know it was in before anyone else in the building.
Goal scorers of his skill set have that special sense.
Eventually, Perry's feeling was confirmed. But not before more than a minute ticked off the clock and a lengthy video review of the play was conducted by the NHL's situation room.
Perry's second goal of the game sparked the Ducks to a 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 1 of the Western Conference first-round series Thursday as Anaheim rallied with a three-goal third-period.
Game 2 is Saturday at Honda Center.
For Anaheim, Perry was the man in the middle, the pesky forward who finished with four points — two goals and two assists — having a hand in all the Ducks' goals. Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen had a three-point night and team captain Ryan Getzlaf had two assists and scored the insurance goal, on the power play, with 3:05 remaining, to make it 4-2.
“Like most of the year we just kept playing our game and got rewarded,” Getzlaf said.
The opener of the series had it all: scoring, quirky bounces off skates, moments of stellar goaltending from the Ducks' Frederik Andersen and the Jets' Ondrej Pavelec and a hard-hitting battle of attrition. The goalies settled down after giving up one goal each in the opening 2:46 of the game.
“We wanted to get off on the right foot here,” Andersen said. “We started really good, and then they came back. In the first 10 minutes of the second period we gave away too many pucks in their zone and that led to some odd-man rushes. But the last half of the game, we played the way we wanted to and got the puck deep and cycled it and forechecked.”
Then there was the long review by the situation room.
Perry actually scored on his second attempt against Pavelec. His first shot was stopped by the right leg of the goalie, but he continued working and poked the puck over the line. He put his arms up in celebration and play continued on and on.
“I had a good feeling,” Perry said. “His pad was back over the line on the second shot for sure.”
Until then, the headline of this one was the physical nature of the game. For the old-school purists, it was quintessential playoff hockey — hitting and more hitting.
“We played pretty steady throughout the game,”
Getzlaf said. “I thought we did a good job of responding in different situations.”
It was 1-1 after the first period, and the Ducks trailed 2-1 after two periods on a goal by Drew Stafford five minutes into the period.
Anaheim's comeback started with a quick-strike power-play goal, at 1:09 of the third period. Patrick Maroon's redirection went off the skate of Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba to Perry in front. Vatanen had the first assist, delivering the slap pass.
This was precisely one of the reasons the Ducks acquired Kesler in the off-season from Vancouver. They hated playing against him all those years when he was with the Canucks, and, well, who didn't?
“It was just a hockey play,” Scheifele said of the penalty. “He gave me a slash and I pushed him back. Obviously, I wish I could take it back, but I can't focus on that too much. It's done and over with, and all we can do is think about the next game.
“We played good through 40 and they kind of took it to us in the third. We played a pretty solid game. A few mishaps, but all we can do is regroup.”
The intensity level was raised a few notches with the physical play through the first 40 minutes. Winnipeg had 32 hits, as did the
Gentlemen, grab your ice bags.
Jets defenseman Mark Stuart was in beast mode with seven hits through two periods and three blocked shots. Ducks rookie forward Chris Wagner had four hits through two periods.
What could have been a series-changing collision won't be on the official scoresheet because it happened beforehand, a mishap between Jets captain Andrew Ladd and goalie Pavelec.
Ladd stepped on a puck near the center ice during pregame warmups and slid into his goalie and sent Pavelec tumbling on top of the Ducks' logo on the ice. Luckily, Pavelec was fine.
“I thought it was a good, clean hockey game,” Getzlaf said. “I was impressed both ways.”