Corey Perry nudged the puck over the Winnipeg goal line and raised both arms in celebration of a tiebreaking score, only nobody believed him. The referees told him to play on, the crowd didn’t roar and his fellow Anaheim Ducks couldn’t stop.
The hockey world should know better than to doubt Perry in matters of goal-scoring by now. The Winnipeg Jets won’t doubt the Ducks’ ability to get out of any trouble in their already chippy playoff series.
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Perry scored two goals in the third period of a four-point performance, and the Ducks rallied from another late deficit for a 4-2 victory over Winnipeg on Thursday night in their first-round series opener.
Perry scored the tiebreaker with 6:39 to play, but the officials didn’t immediately see that the puck had crossed the line near Ondrej Pavelec’s outstretched pad. The teams played on for 62 seconds until a stoppage allowed video review.
"I had a good feeling," Perry said with just a note of sarcasm. "You never know until they announce it."
The tape confirmed another impressive third-period rally by the Ducks, who had 24 comeback wins in the regular season. Fans at Honda Center who could see replays began to roar before the ruling, and the good news rippled through the arena until it was official.
Game 2 is Saturday night at Honda Center.
Captain Ryan Getzlaf and Sami Vatanen each had a goal and two assists, while Frederik Andersen made 25 saves for the Pacific Division champions.
Perry also tied it with his 23rd career playoff goal on a power play early in the third period, ending Anaheim’s seven-game power-play drought. Vatanen scored the Ducks’ opening goal, and Getzlaf added another power-play goal with 3:05 to play.
"We don’t quit. That’s basically it," Andersen said. "We just keep battling and keep grinding away, and usually we get the goals because we go into the dirty areas and play the right way."
Rookie Adam Lowry and Drew Stafford scored for the Jets in their first postseason game since the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Canada four years ago.
Pavelec stopped 29 shots in his NHL playoff debut for a franchise that hadn’t been in the postseason since 2007. A team located in Winnipeg hadn’t made the playoffs since 1996, months before that franchise became the Coyotes.
The Jets’ relative postseason inexperience only showed slightly, but it was enough to cost them against the playoff-toughened Ducks.
"That’s a team with a lot of experience in the playoffs, but I think we kind of gave it to them with all the penalties," Pavelec said. "They showed their experience in the third, but I think we played a very solid game."
With Teemu Selanne watching from a luxury suite, the Finnish Flash’s first and last NHL teams got their first playoff series off to a bad-tempered start.
The clubs played their opener at a fierce tempo, delivering brutal checks and moving the puck aggressively on almost every shift. Both teams have ample motivation going into the postseason, with the Ducks eager to shake their underachieving reputation and the Jets determined to excel in their debuts.
Less than two minutes after the Ducks took the ice in front of a frenzied Orange County crowd waving orange towels, Vatanen put them ahead with his first career playoff goal. But 49 seconds later, the 22-year-old Lowry scored in his playoff debut.
Stafford put the Jets ahead early in the second period with a quick shot on an odd-man rush. Anaheim was awful in the second period for much of its otherwise successful season, and the trend continued in the playoffs.
But after Winnipeg missed on numerous scoring chances, the Ducks finally pushed back late in the period and finally earned their first power play when Mark Scheifele overreacted after a whistle — and Perry capitalized.
"We give their skill guys that extra time and space … and they’ll make you pay for it," Stafford said. "I felt as though we could have had this one. We were in there."
The hard hits culminated in a prolonged scrum after the final horn, with Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler attempting to fight Anaheim’s Clayton Stoner.
NOTES: The Jets scratched injured C Mathieu Perreault, who missed the season finale with a lower-body injury. Perreault revitalized his career with Anaheim last season before signing with Winnipeg as a free agent. … The Ducks scratched injured center Nate Thompson and three healthy late-season acquisitions: James Wisniewski, Jiri Sekac and Tomas Fleischmann. Rookie Chris Wagner made his playoff debut in his 10th NHL game overall.