Ryan Getzlaf’s timing on when to tip a puck, when to dish a pass and when to throw a punch was impeccable Thursday night.
Because of it, Getzlaf established a career-high goal total and set the tone for the Ducks’ 5-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at Honda Center that gives them 40 wins just 56 games into the season.
After deflecting a Hampus Lindholm shot past Flyers goalie Steve Mason with 36 seconds left in the first period for his 26th goal and a 2-1 lead, Getzlaf fought Flyers forward Steve Downie 82 seconds into the second.
Downie “said to me earlier that I owed him one from that first game of the year when we fought when he was in Colorado,” Getzlaf said. “He asked me to go, I thought it was an OK time for me to do it.”
Getzlaf let loose, unloading some barehanded blows to the head region, proclaiming victory en route to a “Gordie Howe hat trick,” consisting of a goal, a fight and an assist that came nearly nine minutes later on a pass Ducks leading goal scorer Corey Perry buried for his 29th goal.
When told Perry has more Gordie Howe hat tricks, Getzlaf cracked, “Corey? He gets beat up all the time, that’s different.”
Philadelphia (26-23-6) pulled within 3-2 on a Matt Read goal 5:48 into the third period and then had a power play after Lindholm committed high-sticking with 8:34 remaining.
But Ducks center Saku Koivu, in his 1,100th NHL game, intercepted a puck and passed up to Daniel Winnik, who scored his first goal since Oct. 10 for a 4-2 lead. Koivu added an empty-net goal in the final minute.
“Long time coming,” said Winnik, who said he’s been obsessed over his inability to score. “You think about it. When is one going to go in? You have chance after chance, even some tips you see other guys score on. It starts weighing on you a bit. Nice to get that pressure off me.”
After losing to Minnesota Tuesday, the Ducks (40-11-5) can continue to say they haven’t lost back-to-back games in regulation since Nov. 14.
“You try to make it a point to not let it snowball,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said.
The game turned physical in the second, with the Getzlaf-Downie fight.
Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin and Flyers goals leader Wayne Simmonds then tussled in front of the Ducks’ goal, with Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen sneaking in a push on Flyers forward Jakub Voracek seconds before making a glove save. The rookie goalkeeper saved 27 of 30 shots to improve to 14-2.
Perry then fought with Philadelphia center Sean Couturier, and Ducks defenseman Mark Fistric intervened by hitting Couturier and Zac Rinaldo, who earlier had knocked Ducks center Nick Bonino out of the game.
Bonino, with 16 goals and 24 assists, clutched his right wrist area in pain upon leaving, but returned to play two shifts in the second period before exiting for good. Boudreau said Bonino is day to day.
Perry punctuated the punchiness by whipping in his goal, pumping his right fist for effect.
“We did a pretty good job of standing up for ourselves,” Boudreau said.