Ryan Getzlaf rights ship to lift Ducks over Wings
Anaheim captain put in a massive second-period effort
(L-R) Nick Bonino #13, Cam Fowler #4 and Matt Beleskey #39 of the Anaheim Ducks celebrate Bonino’s game winning goal against the Detroit Red Wings in overtime in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center on May 8, 2013 in Anaheim, California. The Ducks defeated the Red Wings 3-2 in overtime.
Photograph by: Jeff Gross, Getty Images
ANAHEIM - It has been six years since the Anaheim Ducks won their Stanley Cup. Ryan Getzlaf’s hair has given up the ghost in the interim, but that’s OK — his game has grown.
And that’s saying something, for a 6-foot-4, 220-pound centre who’s won an Olympic gold medal in the meantime.
Two days shy of his 28th birthday, Getzlaf did what a big, strong captain with a big shot and a big will is supposed to do Wednesday night at the Honda Center: led the hometown Ducks through a difficult evening against a wily opponent to a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings that put the Californians ahead in the series by the same count.
Nick Bonino had an open net for the overtime winner 1:54 into extra time, after defenceman Ben Lovejoy walked out of the corner and misfired on a shot that slid through the goal crease to the back post — but it was Getzlaf’s massive effort late in the second period that righted the ship for the Ducks, who can finish off the Red Wings with a win Saturday at Joe Louis Arena.
“I was playing the shooter,” said goalie Jimmy Howard. “I don’t know if he fanned on it or not, but he found the open guy on the back side, and he was able to bury it.
“But I have a lot of confidence in this group here. Its going to be a battle. This series has been a battle.”
The Wings, trying to become the third team of the evening to steal a game in overtime on the road — after Boston won in Toronto and Los Angeles in St. Louis — didn’t lack opportunities to do it.
They had the lead, the momentum and a five-minute power play going for them late in the second period after Ducks’ Daniel Winnik buried Dan Cleary into the end boards, and injured him, and was nailed with a major penalty.
But there the trail ended for the visitors, who sleepwalked through the power play, mishandled passes and flubbed shots and just generally gave confidence back to the Ducks.
Finally, in the dying seconds of a great penalty kill, Getzlaf stole the puck from point man Brendan Smith and drew a holding penalty. On the ensuing power play, he crossed the Detroit blue-line, held the puck and backed the defence in, then unleashed a wicked wrist shot over Howard’s blocker to tie the game 2-2.
Getzlaf claimed not to remember the shot — “I blacked out,” he chuckled — but he remembered the feeling.
“I was pretty excited. It’s an exciting time of year, all those emotions going through you.
“That five-minute (Detroit) power play was rough. It’s not easy. We’re playing a good hockey team and it’s a big situation.”
Veteran defenceman Sheldon Souray said Getzlaf “more than anything goes out and backs up what he says in here. Drew a penalty, scored a goal. Went in — patience, patience, patience — and puts it right where he wants it to go. That’s what great players do.
“He’s won, he’s a champion, he’s a leader … He’s doing what we expect him to do.”
The Ducks, who finished third overall in the NHL behind only Chicago and Pittsburgh, may have overachieved, or they may actually be this good. But they’re getting a good workout from the Red Wings.
“We didn’t think we would steamroll Detroit,” Souray said. “They’re a great team that plays hard and is battle tested. We just need to stay composed, stay the course, the way we have all year.”
Detroit’s Johan Franzen opened scoring on the power play five minutes into the game after the Ducks repeatedly took liberties with Howard’s personal space and Saku Koivu and Corey Perry were flagged for back-to-back goalie interference penalties.
Anaheim equalized on a seeing-eye wrister from the point by Kyle Palmieri that somehow found its way through a sea of bodies in front of the Detroit net.
Old vet Mikael Samuelsson restored the Wings’ lead early in the second, making Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller pay for kicking a juicy rebound of Henrik Zetterberg’s shot right onto his stick.
But Getzlaf created the opportunity, then finished the play that sent it to overtime.
“We go how he goes and he’s been unbelievable all year,” said Lovejoy. “He’s so big, so physical. He was our best player tonight and when he’s going, we’re a tough team to beat.”
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