He was aching from the deep gash carved into his face by a Tyler Seguin slap shot late in Game 1. He was uncomfortable from wearing a bell shield to protect his battered jaw. And he was exhausted from attending the birth of his third child on Thursday.
But none of that stopped Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf from asserting his will in Friday's 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars.
The captain pounced on a turnover at the Dallas blueline and scored his second goal of the series to knot the game at one late in the first, then set up Andrew Cogliano's winner at 5:09 of the third to power the Ducks to the win. The victory gives Anaheim a 2-0 lead as the series switches venues to Dallas.
"Every once in a while, you need your best players to step it up when the rest of the guys are losing their composure a little bit and playing the way they did," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "With what's happened to him in the last three days and to come in and get two points and plus-3 [rating] is a sure reason why he's hopefully going to be nominated for the MVP."
Here are some observations from tonight's contest and some thoughts on Monday's pivotal Game 3:
• After their rally fell just short in Game 1, Dallas' Tyler Seguin said the Stars needed to start Game 2 like they finished the opener. They definitely did that, taking advantage of some happy-handed miscues by the Ducks to control much of the first period. The problem this time was a 30-minute lull that started at the beginning of the second and ran midway through the third before desperation again set in. Consistency is usually an issue with young teams, and Dallas is struggling to find it right now. If they're to get back in this series at home on Monday they need to minimize those soft patches and the easiest way to do that is get their legs moving and keep 'em moving. Dallas is at its best when it keeps the tempo high and to this point they've only been able to do that in fits and starts.
• Boudreau's decision to solve his goalie controversy by starting Frederik Andersen looks like a pretty savvy read after two games, and not just because the rookie has won them both. What the 24-year-old lacks in NHL experience he makes up for with a preternatural calmness that the rest of the team picks up on, along with an uncanny knack for limiting second chances. His ability to either swallow up his rebounds or send them safely into the corners is the main reason Dallas' shooters are so frustrated. He ended up making 34 stops on the night--that's probably more than Boudreau would like to see, but when virtually every chance is a one-and-done that's a manageable workload.
• You have to appreciate the bend/don't break resilience of the Ducks in this one. It would have been easy for them to let this one slip away during a sloppy first period in which every possession seemed to end in a turnover (seven by the official count, 12 by mine), but they established their forecheck early in the second and slowly reeled this one back in. It was the reaction you'd expect from a veteran team in that situation.
• Meanwhile, the Stars did everything they could to hand this one back to the Ducks. Both Getzlaf's opener and Corey Perry's goal that made it 2-1 at 16:15 of the second were unassisted tallies created directly off of Dallas giveaways. Perry's goal was his first playoff tally in two years, ending a 10-game drought. "It definitely feels nice," he said. "It’s been a while since I scored in the playoffs." Pretty clear the Ducks will need a sizable contribution from the rambunctious winger to power any kind of serious run at the Cup. It'll be interesting to see if he can build on this.
• Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said after Game 1 that he wasn't pleased with his team's inability to get shots on net after they pulled to within one late in the game. He should be happier with this effort--they outshot Anaheim 9-0 after Ryan Garbutt scored to close the gap to 3-2 at 9:58 of the third--but he has to be concerned about his team's propensity for wasting premium chances by shooting the puck wide. The Stars missed the target 25 times in this one, and while some of those can be attributed to Anaheim's ability to close off lanes to the net, the majority were the result of lousy aim/being too cute. Jamie Benn missed the net four times and had four other bids blocked, with most of those chances coming from within 20 feet. When he's not converting on those, the Stars are in trouble.
• The Stars have every right to be ticked about the way the winning goal was created. Defenseman Sergei Gonchar was wheeling behind his net with the puck when Cogliano delivered a two-hander to his stick, shattering the composite and creating the turnover that he eventually buried over Kari Lehtonen's shoulder. Nine times out of 10 that play is blown dead for a slashing penalty. Maybe 99 times out of 100 when it creates an immediate change of possession in the defensive zone. Tough break, but maybe this one doesn't end up in the back of the net if the stickless Gonchar glues himself to Cogliano instead of double-covering Getzlaf off to the side. There was a smarter play to be made there ... and the veteran should have made it.
• There are terrible penalties taken over the course of a series, like that crosscheck dealt by Ryan Garbutt after a failed breakaway attempt in the first. And then there are penalties like the roughing call earned by Trevor Daley in a goalmouth mugging of Perry. The first was an undisciplined reaction that sucks the energy out of a team. The second was two minutes invested with an eye on a long series. Perry's a miserable S.O.B. to play against, and he's a player who wants to establish his net-front presence early on. With former nemesis Stephane Robidas now wearing Anaheim colors, it was up to Daley to deliver a message. He got his money's worth, too, burying Perry under a flurry of elbows, fists and other unpleasantness. Like all investments, there's no guarantee this one pays off, but you have to appreciate Daley stepping up there.
• Speaking of stepping up, it's time for Seguin to do just that. He's been largely ineffective through the first two games, unable to uncork his gamebreaking speed though the neutral zone or find the lanes to get his shots on net. Shutdown duo Cam Fowler and Ben Lovejoy are outworking and outsmarting him to this point, reducing Seguin to the helpless bystander he was during Boston's run to the Final last spring. You can't be too hard on Seguin--he's just now learning how to be a go-to player--but this series is starting to feel like a lesson he'll build on for the future rather than a superstar's coming-out party.