It looked as though the Anaheim Ducks needed a time machine to win Game 1 of their opening-round Stanley Cup Playoff game against the Winnipeg Jets.
But really, all they needed were the Twins.
Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, the same two players who the Ducks have called on time and time again, looked every bit the all-world players that they’ve become in Anaheim, in a 4-2 win Thursday night at the Honda Center.
Perry scored twice and assisted twice for a playoff career-high four points — tying the franchise record. Getzlaf put the exclamation point on the Game 1 win with a fourth goal and finished with three points. Points aside, the leadership that the duo showed helped keep the team together in what could only be described as bruising battle, as they led the Ducks to their 25th comeback victory of the season.
"This is the time when we want to step up and we want to lead by example," Perry said. "Whether it’s on the scoresheet or by doing other things. It was a good game for our whole line. I thought we played well. To get going in the right direction, we needed this one."
It was as if it was scripted, because we’ve seen this episode about as many times as we’ve seen Getzlaf set up Perry: A good beginning, a struggle in the middle and a comeback in the end led by the heroic twins.
"No matter what team you are, if your best players aren’t your best players, you don’t win," said Ducks’ coach Bruce Boudreau. "From time to time, the other guys are going to show up and be really good and win you the game, but your best players have to be your best players."
Stanley Cup Playoffs: Jets vs. Ducks series information
Perry and Getzlaf helped the Ducks establish the type of game that Anaheim intended to play. While the Jets attempted to beat the Ducks into submission, Anaheim only hit back when necessary. They picked their spots wisely and played smart hockey.
When it got weird, they kept the team from panicking. And for a few minutes, it got very weird.
Tied at two in the fourth period, Perry stuck a puck underneath the pad of Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec, but it was not called a goal and the teams skated on until there was a break in the action. When Clayton Stoner took a high-sticking penalty a few minutes later, the goal was replayed on the arena screen and showed that the puck did cross the goal line.
The officials began a lengthy review, dialing up the situation room in Toronto, before ultimately reversing the call and putting the goal on the board. The game clock was then set back to when the goal occurred, at 13:21 in the third period (6:39 left to play). Stoner’s penalty was expected to be nullified, but because of an obscure rule, the penalty stood.
With the game clock rolled back, the time that Stoner got his stick in the face of Adam Lowry technically hadn’t even occurred in the game yet.
"It definitely doesn’t happen very often where there’s a penalty called later," Getzlaf said. "I really didn’t know what was going on there."
Anaheim killed it off, as they did with the other two Ducks penalties taken. Special teams was a bright spot but merely a footnote. Had their power-play goal drought not spanned the last 11 games, the 2-for-3 stat might have been completely overshadowed by the performances of Perry and Getzlaf.
They exorcised some demons on the power play by playing simple: A big body at the net to get the dirty, greasy goals. And it finally paid off, as they were rewarded with their first multi-power-play goal game since Jan. 7.
And they’ll need every last goal. The hits — all 83 of them — were as big as the plays made. This was no graceful long program, it was only a few blows short of what you might see in an Octagon.
The first game of this series was merely fuel for the fire.
"I think we’re going to get more animosity," Boudreau said. "That’s the first game we’ve played against them in 38, 39 games. We haven’t played them since then. You play seven games like that, you’re going to begin to dislike people after a while."