Sports

Ducks' Corey Perry doesn't let up as he comes through in the clutch

SportsAnaheim DucksNational Hockey LeagueRyan GetzlafAlexander OvechkinStanley Cup PlayoffsTeemu Selanne

He's scored from his knees and while being pushed into a barrel roll.

Ducks forward Corey Perry has eight two-goal games, nine game-winning goals and he's let four games or more pass only twice this season without slapping the puck into the net.

"He has a knack around the net that no one has, hits the net better than any shooter I've ever seen, one of the clutchest persons I've ever been around," said Ducks forward Patrick Maroon, who has occasionally joined Perry and center Ryan Getzlaf on the Ducks' first line.

"You've almost come to expect it, that when a big goal happens: 'Oh, it's Corey Perry.' "

Perry's nonchalance about his 43-goal, 39-assist season speaks to the 28-year-old's calm in the most chaotic and pressure-filled moments of his team's lofty pursuit to reclaim the Stanley Cup he helped Anaheim win in 2006-07.

Doesn't he realize that many athletes in the first year of a massive new contract — such as his eight-year, $69-million deal — usually exhale with a performance reduction?

"I don't know why it'd change at all," Perry said, who was the league's most valuable player in 2010-11, when he scored 50 goals. "I'm being counted on."

What's his secret to scoring?

"Nothing," he said. "As a kid, I always practiced. That's about it."

Can he sense in the late going, with 22 points in his last 17 games, that teammates are working extra hard to get him the puck?

"If I go to the right areas at the right time, things are going to happen," Perry said

Perry stands as the NHL's second-leading goal scorer to Washington's Alex Ovechkin. While Ovechkin's team has been eliminated from playoff contention and he has goal differential of minus-34, Perry is plus-32 for the freshly crowned Pacific Division champions.

The moments of brilliance have been steady and include the on-the-knees, Dec. 9 goal against the New York Islanders, when defenseman Calvin de Haan committed a tripping penalty on Perry before the forward slid in for one of eight goals in seven games.

He continues to produce despite obstacles, such as scoring while getting pushed into a somersault with 22 seconds remaining during a March 31 comeback victory over Winnipeg. Perry's acrobatic score capped the Ducks' comeback from a 4-0 hole before Anaheim won in overtime.

He also scored twice in the third period April 2 to help beat Edmonton, and answered a San Jose first-period goal Wednesday night with 2.1 seconds left.

"Just unbelievable," veteran Ducks forward Teemu Selanne said of Perry. "The hunger and pride, the body language he has to be the difference is fun to watch.

"There's always certain levels you want to reach as a player, but then when you reach those, the team comes first. That's what he has figured out now and it's real special."

Getzlaf, who also has had a stellar season in the first year of an eight-year deal with 31 goals and 56 assists, declined to comment on who the team MVP is, but he's been awed by his close friend.

"He's hopped up in some nice situations and we look upon him for everything," Getzlaf said.

Drafted along with Perry in 2003, Getzlaf has the answer for what fuels Perry not only to score but also to give the powerful vibe as on-ice agitator.

"Losing," Getzlaf said. "Perrs likes to win. Everything is about winning. The ultimate goal is getting that Stanley Cup again."

Perry remains inspired for a repeat experience of that joy.

"That time with the guys was something," Perry said. "You've worked so hard all year for something, and then to get it, with all your family there. It's the greatest feeling."

The converse of that was last year's first-round playoff elimination when the Detroit Red Wings kept Perry goal-less. The ache for redemption has been a driving source that Coach Bruce Boudreau has noticed.

"He's engaged in the game, his passion is very strong," Boudreau said. "He wants to be the best. There's an inner drive in him a lot of people don't have."

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimespugmire

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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SportsAnaheim DucksNational Hockey LeagueRyan GetzlafAlexander OvechkinStanley Cup PlayoffsTeemu Selanne
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