The Anaheim Ducks are a team that hadn’t exactly gotten the best production out of anybody during their first two games against the Los Angeles Kings in the second round of the playoffs. They had only scored three goals, and they had dropped both games at home to fall behind 2-0 in the series as it shifted to the Kings' home rink.
Most egregious of the offenders in that regard was Corey Perry. In the first two games of the series, the sniper had zero points, a minus-2 rating, and seven shots on goal. Compare that to the two goals and five assists that he had during the six game series triumph over the Dallas Stars, and it’s pretty clear that a big component of the Anaheim offense had gone silent.
Fortunately for the Ducks, their primary goal scorer seemingly came back from the dead as the team battled to get back into their series on Thursday night. Just four minutes into the game, the Ducks picked up an early power play thanks to a silly penalty by Trevor Lewis, and the team took full advantage.
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The Ducks’ power play unit came on the ice and immediately started moving the puck crisply around the ice, and eventually it founds its way onto Ryan Getzlaf’s stick. Seeing Patrick Maroon camped out at the top of the crease, he whipped a pass down the ice to him, and Perry immediately made a beeline for the front of the net. Maroon made a nifty little move to move the puck across and dished a pass to Perry, who one-timed a shot past Jonathan Quick to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead.
The goal was important for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which because it gave the Ducks some tangible momentum. Moving the puck around that effectively energizes the team doing it and demoralizes the one that is watching helplessly as they can’t prevent passes from finding their targets, and the Ducks showed incredible chemistry on the play.
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Just as importantly though, it showed the power of doing the little things correctly on a power play. Having a guy like Maroon camped out in front of the net is precisely what is needed to throw any goaltender off their game, and he got inside positioning and held it long enough to get a pass fired his way from Getzlaf. Perry’s anticipation also made the play happen as he saw the events unfold in front of him, and his decisiveness on the play got him the goal and his team the lead.
There was naturally still a lot of game to be played, and the Kings did make it close at the end (although what could have been the game-tying goal was thwarted by Ben Lovejoy’s critical insurance goal with less than three minutes remaining in the contest), but ultimately it was the Ducks that were able to cash in on more of their scoring opportunities.
Yes, there was some bad news mixed in too, as Frederik Andersen and Matt Beleskey both went down with lower body injuries. Those injuries, which are both listed as day-to-day, could hinder the Ducks as they try to tie things back up on Saturday night, but the ultimate takeaway from Game 3 for this team is that Perry looked like his old self in this one, and the Ducks will need him to be that if they are going to win three more games and advance to the Western Conference Final.