Ducks advance to conference finals with OT win
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Corey Perry crumpled to the ice and crawled to the bench in the second period, his right leg hanging limply from his torso after a leg-on-leg hit. Just a few minutes later, Anaheim’s top goal-scorer willed himself back onto the ice.
A period or so after that, Perry bounced up off his knees and leaned into a goalmouth scramble to score the goal that propelled the streaking Ducks into the Western Conference finals.
"Textbook Perry," Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen said with a grin.
Perry scored his seventh goal of an incredible postseason 2:26 into overtime, and the Ducks eliminated the Calgary Flames with a 3-2 victory Sunday night in Game 5 of their second-round series.
Matt Beleskey got the tying power-play goal early in the third period for the Ducks, who have won eight of their nine playoff games this spring. They will face the Chicago Blackhawks for a spot in the Stanley Cup finals in a tantalizing collision of two NHL powers.
With another clutch goal from Perry in a postseason full of them, the Pacific Division champion Ducks finished off the Flames and clinched a spot in their first conference finals since 2007, the year of their only NHL championship.
"(Perry) takes a beating in every game, so it’s no surprise to see him come back and score that goal," said Beleskey, who scored in each of the series’ five games. "That’s who he is."
The Ducks thought they had lost Perry to an apparent leg injury in the second period when he collided with Calgary’s Matt Stajan, but he returned moments later, tentatively testing his leg under a standing ovation. After growing in strength as he played on, he wrapped up the night with his NHL-leading 15th point of the postseason in relentless Perry style.
"I didn’t know how serious it was," Perry said, refusing to give any specifics about the collision. "I was just trying to get back and play that next shift. I felt OK, and then I got my feet moving and went from there."
Andersen made 17 saves and Ryan Kesler scored a power-play goal in the second period for the Ducks, who had won just two playoff rounds in their first seven seasons after the 22-year-old Perry and Ryan Getzlaf raised the Cup in 2007. The Ducks have doubled that total with their rampage through the Pacific Division bracket.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau is in his first conference finals after seven postseason trips with some of the NHL’s best regular-season teams in Washington and Anaheim.
"We’re committed, and we’re determined," Boudreau said.
Jiri Hudler and Johnny Gaudreau scored early goals for the Flames in the final game of their first playoff trip since 2009.
Karri Ramo stopped 44 shots for the Flames, but his teammates struggled to keep up with Anaheim after surprising Vancouver in the first round of their first playoff appearance since 2009. Calgary has lost 22 consecutive games at Honda Center since April 25, 2006, the second-longest such streak in NHL history.
"I’m rooting for them," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said of the Ducks. "We didn’t give them anything. They earned it. They were the better team, and you have to tip your hat to them because they work hard and they battle. It’s not by luck that they beat us."
Anaheim returned from Alberta with solid control of its second straight playoff series, following up a sweep of Winnipeg by outscoring Calgary 16-7 in the first four games. The Ducks lost Game 3 in overtime after a last-minute tying goal, but otherwise outworked the young Flames in three solid wins.
Hudler scored midway through the first period after Kesler got a double minor for high-sticking Sean Monahan, wiring a high shot past Andersen for the first point of the series by Calgary’s top regular-season scorer.
Kesler evened it early in the second period, putting a clever pass from Jakob Silfverberg past Ramo for his fourth goal of an outstanding postseason. Just 56 seconds later, the Ducks left a juicy turnover in the slot for Gaudreau, whose wrist shot beat Andersen for his fourth postseason goal.
The Ducks’ momentum continued after the intermission, and Beleskey artfully deflected Beauchemin’s shot for his fifth goal. Anaheim built a huge shots advantage in the period and held Calgary without a shot for more than nine minutes, but couldn’t avoid OT.
Ramo shrugged off the suggestion he faced interference on Perry’s winner.
"They scored the goal," Ramo said. "They were a gritty team. They scored the goals that you need to score in the playoffs. They deserved that. If it’s a goal, it’s a goal."
NOTES: The Ducks are in the conference finals for the fourth time, winning it twice previously. … Beleskey’s five-game goals streak surpassed the club record accomplished three times, including Teemu Selanne’s four-game streak in 2011. Chicago’s Patrick Kane also put up a five-game streak in the current postseason. … Anaheim’s power play improved to 9 for 29 in the postseason. … Ducks captain Getzlaf celebrated his 30th birthday. Perry turns 30 next Saturday.