Ducks are moving on after finishing sweep of Jets with 5-2 win
If the first dagger wasn’t enough -- and it almost wasn’t against the resilient Winnipeg Jets -- the Ducks’ Ryan Kesler made certain to apply the finishing touch.
Kesler scored twice in the third period, twice giving the Ducks two-goal leads and some bonus breathing room in a tense Game 4 and the Ducks added an empty-net goal to win, 5-2, on Wednesday night at MTS Centre.
They clinched the Western Conference quarterfinal series, four games to none. Still, this was no garden-variety playoff sweep by the Ducks, who staged third-period comebacks in the first three games of the series against the Jets and trailed 1-0 in Game 4.
Anaheim goaltender Frederik Andersen gave up one third-period goal in the series and that was Wednesday when a shot by Jets defenseman Mark Stuart went in off the leg of Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler, cutting the Ducks’ lead to 3-2 at 10:27 before Kesler made it 4-2 at 15:11.
“Our guys did a great job tonight, answering everything that was thrown at us,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. “Our goalie, once again, played great and we had some guys step up and score some big goals for us.
“Kes was great, Silvy [Jakob] Silfverberg, an unbelievable series. I can go up and down the lineup.”
Kesler sparked the Ducks — which is why they acquired him in the off-season from the Vancouver Canucks for his playoff pedigree — with three goals in the final two games of the series and five points overall. His late third-period goal in Game 3 enabled the Ducks to reach overtime.
“It’s a comforting feeling knowing he’s there and going to play that hard for us every night,” Getzlaf said.
Kesler, and co-villain (at least in Winnipeg) Corey Perry, combined for four points in the series-clinching game. Perry assisted on Emerson Etem’s brilliant goal — perhaps the best of the playoffs so far — in the first period to make it 1-1, and helped set up Andrew Cogliano’s goal at 12:55 of the second period, putting the Ducks ahead, 2-1.
“It’s just a never-die attitude,” Perry said. “We’re down in the third period in three games and down early tonight. The way we respond after goals and not get too emotionally high or too low. That’s going to help us through the next couple.”
Said Kesler: “You can relish it tonight, but it’s one series. We didn’t come here to win one series. We came here for the whole thing.”
Anaheim is the first team to win four straight postseason games when trailing at any point in a game since 2012 when New Jersey did it against Philadelphia.
Perry, who is the league’s playoff co-scoring leader with seven points, agreed it was no ordinary sweep. The Jets were resilient, as were their fans. They recovered their composure after Kesler made it 3-1 and immediately started chanting, “Go Jets Go.”
But the closeness of the series was of little solace to the Jets. “We got swept. It doesn’t matter how close we were, we lost,” said forward Drew Stafford.
It was the first playoff sweep by the Ducks since they did it against Colorado in the second round in their 2006 playoff run. Anaheim also pulled off two series sweeps the year it reached the 2003 Stanley Cup Final, doing it against Detroit in the opening round and Minnesota in the Western Conference finals.
They will play the Calgary Flames or the Canucks in the second round and it could be a long break because the Ducks finished this series so swiftly.
The Flames are leading the Canucks, three games to one, and Game 5 is Thursday at Vancouver.
It’s been quite some time since the Ducks played either of those Canadian franchises in the playoffs. The Ducks beat the Canucks in the second round in 2007 on their way to the Stanley Cup and also defeated the Flames in 2006 in seven games in the opening round.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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