CHICAGO – Corey Perry knows exactly where Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan are going to be on each shift. The passes are crisp, and the shots are finding the back of the net.
Yup, it’s been that kind of roll for Anaheim’s top line.
Perry scored twice in third period and the Ducks’ leading trio took care of the offence in a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night.
Getzlaf and Ryan assisted on each of Perry’s goals, continuing an amazing run by the stellar unit. Perry has eight goals in his last five games, putting him one ahead of Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos for the NHL lead with 44, and Getzlaf has 10 helpers in his last four. Ryan has five assists in his last three games.
“We’re playing together and playing as a line, and that’s huge,” Perry said. “Early on in the season we were here, we were there and just missing. Now finally we’ve got that chemistry and we’re rolling with it.”
The Ducks closed a three-game trip with their seventh win in nine games, moving one point ahead of Chicago for seventh in the Western Conference. Anaheim also earned a split in the season series with the Stanley Cup champions.
Marian Hossa scored for Chicago, which had won three of four. Corey Crawford made 23 saves, keeping the Blackhawks in the game when the Ducks turned up the pressure following a tight first period.
“That was a tough ending, obviously,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “It was a brutal loss.”
Chicago has eight games left in the regular season, starting with the opener of a three-game trip Monday night against Detroit. The Stanley Cup champions face the Central-leading Red Wings three more times, but have no games left against their main competitors for the final playoff spots in the crowded West.
“That’s a tough pill to swallow. … It cannot happen again because the games are running down,” Hossa said in a mostly empty locker room. “This one was very important.”
The Blackhawks led for most of the game, but couldn’t hold off Perry, Getzlaf and Ryan. The three combined on a pretty sequence just 1:07 into the third that ended with Perry flipping the puck into the open right side.
Perry struck again with 4:30 left, spinning around and knocking in a shot off Crawford’s right side.
“If you look at the size of the players, the skill set of the players and the compete level of the players that make up that line, we think it’s pretty dynamic,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. “And they proved again tonight that they’re quite capable of taking our hockey club and being leaders and leading our team.”
Ducks backup Ray Emery made 27 saves in place of all-star Jonas Hiller, who missed 15 straight games with vertigo and struggled in his return Thursday night. Hiller was pulled after allowing three goals in the first period of Anaheim’s 5-4 loss at Nashville, but was active against the Blackhawks.
Emery caught a bad break in the first when a lucky bounce set up the only goal of the period. Michael Frolik’s pass caromed off Viktor Stalberg’s skate to teammate Hossa, who blasted it into the right side of the net with 6:46 left. It was Hossa’s 22nd goal of the season.
The Ducks had more quality chances in the second, but Crawford responded. He denied Teemu Selanne during two different power plays, including a nice right pad save. He also turned away Ryan on a breakaway and was there to stop Perry’s quick rebound attempt.
Crawford also got some help from defenceman Brent Seabrook, who broke up a two-on-one surge by Ryan and Perry.
“We had lots of chances to score goals,” Getzlaf said. “It was just a matter of staying with our system and getting the puck to (Perry) I guess.”
NOTES: Anaheim has seven games left, beginning Monday night when it hosts Colorado. … Perry, Ryan and Getzlaf each had over 21 minutes of ice time. … D Brian Campbell was recognized for his charity work before the game, presented with the Blackhawks man of the year award. … Blackhawks C Jake Dowell came back after leaving in the first period with a cut on his face.