Jakob Silfverberg broke a 1-1 tie and spoiled an incredible performance by Ondrej Pavelec to give the Anaheim Ducks the win and a 2-0 lead in their series with the Winnipeg Jets.
Silfverberg’s lightning-quick release beat Pavelec from the bottom of the left circle with only 21 seconds remaining on the clock.
It was an unexpected end to another bone-crunching, tightly-contested affair between these teams that seemed destined to go deep into overtime.
It’s not exactly Evan Longoria-like, but if you can come up with a player with less NHL experience who has ever signed a longer, more lucrative contract than John Klingberg has with the Dallas Stars, let us know.
Because we certainly can’t come up with one. After just 65 games in the best league in the world and only 13 in the American League prior to that, and coming off double hip surgery last summer, Klingberg signed a seven-year deal with the Stars worth $29.75 million. It’s a contract that will take him and the Stars through the 2021-22 season. (Longoria, the superstar third baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays, agreed to a six-year contract extension in 2008 worth $17.5 million just six games into his major league career, a deal that has since been extended.) Read more
Throughout the entire regular season, the storyline for the Winnipeg Jets was the same: everything can be clicking, but at times a lack of discipline comes back to haunt them when it matters most. In Game 1 against the Anaheim Ducks, that was exactly the case.
For 39:27, the Jets, who took the most penalties of any team in the league during the regular season, had managed to stay out of the box. Then, with only 33 seconds remaining in the second period, Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele took exception to a hack from Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler in front of the net, turned and bopped the Ducks center in the face. If there was a turning point Thursday evening, it was that penalty. Read more
You’ll have to forgive Corey Perry for being quiet heading into the third period of Game 1 against the Winnipeg Jets. He was saving his energy for some late-game heroics.
Perry, who managed to find the score sheet in the first period with an early assist, was largely unnoticeable through the 38 minutes that followed Sami Vatanen‘s early first period goal that put the Ducks ahead 1-0. But in the third frame, with Anaheim down 2-1, Perry scored to knot the game at two. Then, 12 minutes later, Perry did what he does best: drove to the net, shielded the puck from a defender and scored a hard-nosed tally. Read more
HOW THEY WIN
DUCKS: Though it may sound counterintuitive, the Ducks win when players other than Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are scoring. That’s because it’s a given the dynamic duo will produce with regularity. But it takes more than two prolific offensive players to win against the big boys of the NHL. That’s what cost Anaheim in the second round against Los Angeles last spring – a lack of balanced scoring. The addition of Ryan Kesler is a big boost to the second line and Matt Beleskey moved north of 20 goals for the first time, though 12 of them came in the first 26 games of the season. Anaheim has one of the youngest, most mobile bluelines in the league, led by Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm. They’re adept at moving the puck efficiently and are crafty in the offensive zone. They’re also underrated defensively, as is veteran Francois Beauchemin.
JETS: The Jets make for a miserable opponent thanks to their grinding style under coach Paul Maurice. They’re a top-five SAT Close team, consistently the aggressor in generating shot attempts. Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler combine size and scoring touch on the wings, Mark Scheifele continues to develop as a two-way center and Michael Frolik excels in his checking role. The Jets ‘D’ corps, when healthy, is versatile and punishing. Dustin Byfuglien will earn a few Norris Trophy votes after a dominant return from playing forward last season. Towering Tyler Myers looks reborn after arriving from Buffalo in the Evander Kane trade. Jacob Trouba’s offense hasn’t sparkled like it did in his rookie year, but his bruising play suits the playoffs. And hey, goalies Michael Hutchinson and Ondrej Pavelec have both had hot streaks. Who’s to say one won’t in the playoffs? Read more
In some ways, the most unlikely team in this year’s playoffs carries much of a country’s hopes on its back. The Winnipeg Jets, picked by this publication (ahem) and many other pundits to finish last in their division, are in the playoffs.
And there are some who believe the Jets have what it takes to defeat the Anaheim Ducks in the first round. This corner is not one of them, but there is a sentiment that the Jets are flying high and the playoff-underachieving Ducks are once again ripe to be upset. Read more
Teemu Selanne retired at the end of last season, but the 44-year-old future Hockey Hall of Famer hasn’t lost his competitive juices – and on Wednesday in a prelude to the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga., he was back in a competition of sorts: as a caddy for Finnish pro golfer Mikko Ilonen. Read more
When you sign up to be a professional hockey goaltender, you do so with the full awareness your life will be an endless pressure-cooker until the day you retire. There are only 60 NHL jobs to be had each season, new faces coming onto the scene every year, and an endless series of “must-win” games that can adversely affect future employment in hockey’s top league if things don’t go your way.
That said, there are some goalies facing greater amounts of pressure than others. With the way Montreal superstar Carey Price and Nashville net menace Pekka Rinne have played this season, they’re going to return as the starter for their respective teams next season regardless of what takes place in the 2015 playoffs. They’ll still face pressure, of course. But they don’t have as much to prove as some other NHL goalies do. Here are the five goalies with the most to prove in this year’s post-season:
5. Frederik Andersen, Ducks. The 25-year-old Andersen is tied for seventh in the league in wins this season, but his save percentage in 52 games is a pedestrian .914, and his numbers in his rookie NHL playoff experience last season – including an .899 SP and a 3.10 goals-against average – raise questions about what he’ll be able to do this time around. Andersen is under contract for next season at a very affordable $1.15-million salary cap hit, but he’s also got youngster John Gibson (who posted a .919 SP and 2.70 G.A.A. in the playoffs for Anaheim last year) breathing down his neck. A poor performance for him could put the 21-year-old Gibson in the No. 1 role, and he might never surrender it.