Ducks are keeping their cool against Jets

Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf reaches for the puck during a 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 1 of the NHL Western Conference quarterfinals on Thursday.

Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf reaches for the puck during a 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 1 of the NHL Western Conference quarterfinals on Thursday.

(Harry How / Getty Images)

If Ryan Getzlaf had acted out of instinct or habit, he would have retaliated with a push or a punch after Winnipeg defenseman Dustin Byfuglien came up from behind Corey Perry to deliver a needless, dangerous hit after Perry scored the Ducks’ second goal Monday.

Instead, Getzlaf found himself acting as the voice of calm, a new role on a team that has been notoriously easy to goad into fits of anger and foolish responses. Getzlaf made sure Patrick Maroon, the brawny winger who has been playing the left side with him and Perry, didn’t get drawn into something stupid that might have resulted in a potentially costly trip to the penalty box.

“That’s the first time I’ve grabbed one of our guys in a scrum, that’s for sure, to try and get Patty out of there,” Getzlaf said with a smile.


“Pears is going to take shots,” Getzlaf added, using Perry’s nickname. “He responded well to it. As a group we talked about that before the series. I think we learned a lot last year playing Dallas and the different stuff that they tried to do to me and Pears to try and get us off our games, and at times they were able to last year. I think we’ve learned from that.”

They’ve learned that winning is the best revenge — and that maintaining their poise will be a more effective weapon for them in this first-round playoff series against the Jets than giving in to momentary outrage.

Despite holding the lead for only 11 minutes and 21 seconds over the first three games, the Ducks are one victory away from clearing their first postseason hurdle. Much of the credit for putting them in position to end the series Wednesday at MTS Centre goes to Getzlaf, Perry and goaltender Frederik Andersen for the poise they displayed Monday in the rally for a 5-4 overtime victory before a raucous and hostile crowd.

“You’ve got a team on their heels and we have our foot right on the throat where we want it,” Andersen said Tuesday, “so we’ve just got to finish them off. We don’t want to give them any hope.”

Andersen, who never seems to get ruffled, hasn’t given up a goal in the third period in the series. He kept that feat intact Monday by getting his glove on a point-blank, power-play shot by Bryan Little with 61 seconds left in regulation, correctly guessing that a lurking Little would try to finish off a back-door play while the Jets had a man advantage.

That save kept the Ducks going long enough for Rickard Rakell to tip Francois Beauchemin’s blast past goalie Ondrej Pavelec 5:12 into overtime and tip the balance of the series decidedly in the Ducks’ favor.


A lot of the Ducks’ resolve goes back to turning the other cheek when their gut reaction is to unleash a left hook. That restraint helped the Ducks record their third consecutive comeback after trailing in the third period and kept their penalty-minute total at a modest average of 7.3 minutes a game. During the season they averaged 10.8 minutes, sixth-most in the NHL.

“Being down in games and all those kinds of things, you learn how to stay calm and do the right things, and we’ve been lucky enough to get paid off for it,” Getzlaf said.

The NHL, in its infinite lack of wisdom, didn’t fine or suspend Byfuglien for his cheap shot. Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau, though acknowledging he didn’t like the hit, begged off further comment on the grounds he’d get himself in trouble if he discussed it. This new restraint seems to extend to the occasionally red-faced man behind the bench.

“The goal is much more important than what’s going on there, and the goal is to win,” Boudreau said. “Our players are big and strong and they can take it. They know that in other situations, if this was game 28 or 38, then other things might happen. But this is the playoffs. You suck it up; you take it and then you move on and you hope you get the right calls.”

The Jets, meanwhile, hope to prolong their season and become the fifth NHL team to erase an 0-3 deficit in a best-of-seven playoff series. “We know teams have done it before, so why can’t we?” forward Mark Scheifele said.

They’ll have to go through the resilient and restrained Ducks to do it.

“Everyone’s going to throw every stat that they can at you, that it’s impossible to come back or it’s possible or whatever,” Getzlaf said. “It’s about winning that fourth game, and we’ve got to make sure that our best foot’s forward and try to close this thing out because we don’t want to give them life.”


Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen