The Anaheim Ducks got their opportunities and made the most of them in the third period, with Corey Perry completing a four-point night in a Game 1 win against the Winnipeg Jets.
Penalties and discipline had been an issue for the Jets throughout the season, having finished with the second highest amount of penalty minutes behind only Pittsburgh. They were also short-handed a league high 308 times during the regular season.
On Thursday, with both teams combining for 83 hits, the Jets were penalized four times going back to the final minute of the second period — one call did come at the end of the game — and surrendered two power play goals to the Ducks, with Perry and Ryan Getzlaf scoring to help the Ducks to a 4-2 win.
“It was a tough, hard-fought battle. I think definitely had a chance being up. I think we got in a little bit of penalty trouble and it’s just something that for the next game, we need to make sure we continue to bring that physical battle but make sure it’s between the whistles,” said Drew Stafford, as per video on the Jets’ website.
“We don’t want to give their skilled guys any extra chance like we did.”
In addition to Perry’s four-point night, Getzlaf had a goal and two assists, and Sami Vatanen also had a three-point night.
“If your big guys don’t show up, you’re not going to win. Our big guys showed up tonight,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, as per the club’s Twitter account.
Corey Perry knew it right away.
The Anaheim Ducks’ star winger gave his team the lead with less than seven minutes remaining in the third period on a beautiful second effort that was initially waved off, allowing play to continue. But Perry was sure the puck had crossed the goal line, despite it hitting the outstretched right pad of Ondrej Pavelec, and the video review confirmed it.
The Ducks then held on for the 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets to take a 1-0 series lead.
Perry, who recorded a four-point night, found the back of the net twice in the final period.
With Anaheim trailing after 40 minutes, Perry’s first goal tied the game, and his second off a power move to the net put the Ducks in front. He cut to the net off his wing and had his first backhand shot denied by the right pad of Pavelec. Perry jammed at the puck once again and was able to nudge it inches over the goal line.
Thursday marked the first time in 19 years an NHL team from Winnipeg competed in a Stanley Cup playoff game. The Jets didn’t get off to the best start, allowing a goal from Sami Vatanen less than two minutes in. But 49 seconds later, Adam Lowry responded, getting the Jets on the board.
The Jets will need a similar response in Game 2.
Trade-deadline acquisition James Wisniewski will be a healthy scratch for the Anaheim Ducks when they open their first-round series tonight at home versus Winnipeg.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau explained his decision to park the veteran defenseman in the press box and go with a pairing of Clayton Stoner and Sami Vatanen instead.
“They have been teamed up all year,” said Boudreau. “Sami seems to play his best with Clayton, and now Clayton’s fully healthy, so I don’t see why he would lose his position. … I think those two have made a great pair together all year.”
The Ducks’ other defensive pairings are expected to be Hampus Lindholm with Francois Beauchemin and Cam Fowler with Simon Despres.
Related: For the Anaheim Ducks, it’s ‘time to step up’
Just in case the Anaheim Ducks don’t get past the Winnipeg Jets, let’s go ahead and tuck away this quote from GM Bob Murray for later reference:
“This is our third year with this group making the playoffs where there’s some sort of expectations. I am going to watch very carefully not only the coaching staff, but how certain players play in the playoffs this year. This is the third year and it’s time.
“It’s not just [coach Bruce Boudreau]. The guys that have been here, it’s time for some of them to step to the plate. I’m watching everybody. There’s guys that haven’t had good playoffs. It’s time. They’ve got experience now. They’ve been there. It’s time to step up.”
That quote (warning?) came via the L.A. Times.
Remember that Murray has not been a passive GM, to say the least. In the summer, he acquired former Selke Trophy winner Ryan Kesler to give the Ducks the kind of second-line center Boudreau said he’s never had as an NHL coach. Murray also made a number of trades prior to the deadline, as he reportedly felt the Ducks’ success earlier in the season was a bit of a mirage. His team responded and finished the schedule playing arguably its best hockey of 2014-15, save for the odd hiccup.
Also consider that if the Ducks can get past Winnipeg, they’ll be pretty heavily favored to beat either Vancouver or Calgary, which would put them in the NHL’s final four for the first time since they won the Stanley Cup in 2007.
If they don’t get past Winnipeg, or if they do and then lose in the second round, it’ll be extremely interesting to see how Murray reacts.
Related: Pressing Playoff Question: Which coaches are coaching for their jobs?
A quick look at what games will be on what channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action…
Penguins at Rangers, 7 p.m. on NBCSN
Tonight’s action kicks off with a rematch of last spring’s Eastern Conference semifinals, which the Rangers won in seven games. Tonight marks the first time since Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin made their playoff debuts in 2007 that Pittsburgh is opening the playoffs on the road. Doc Emrick and Pierre McGuire have the call.
Red Wings at Lightning, 7:30 p.m. on CNBC
A half hour later the series, which features the only two NHL organizations Steve Yzerman has ever been a part of gets going in Tampa Bay. It marks the first ever playoff meeting between the Red Wings and Lightning. Tampa is looking for its first playoff win since Game 6 of the 2011 Eastern Conference final. John Forslund and Andy Brickley will be on the call.
Wild at Blues, 9:30 p.m. on NBCSN
This marks the first playoff meeting between the Central Division foes. The two clubs split the regular season series with each team winning twice. Both teams enter the postseason on hot streaks. St. Louis used a 13-6-3 finish to overtake the Nashville Predators and win the Central Division. Minnesota was a league-best 26-8-2 after the All-Star break. Dave Strader and Brian Engblom have the call.
Jets at Ducks, 10:30 p.m. on CNBC
Thursday night’s action concludes in Orange County as the Winnipeg Jets and Anaheim Ducks meet for the first time in a playoff series. The Ducks won all three regular season meetings between the two clubs. The Jets franchise is in the playoffs for the first time since a four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Rangers in 2007 when the club was still in Atlanta. Dave Randorf, Garry Galley and Cassie Campbell-Pascall will be on the call.