ANAHEIM, Calif. – With the innate confidence of a born athlete, Ryan Getzlaf says he’s sure he can handle the extra pressure that comes with being the Anaheim Ducks’ captain.
He demonstrated why in the third period of their home opener, with more than a little help from his linemates.
Getzlaf set up Corey Perry’s tying goal and Bobby Ryan’s go-ahead score 1:18 apart in the third, and the Ducks finally earned their first victory of the season, 4-3 over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night.
Getzlaf had a goal and three assists in his home debut wearing the “C,” and Jonas Hiller made 36 saves while keeping the Ducks close before an impressive third period by their talented top line. Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan—all medal-winning Olympians with US$25 million-plus contracts—went scoreless with a collective minus-12 rating while Anaheim lost its first three games by a combined 13-2.
“We know we’ve got to score and be effective,” said Getzlaf, who had the fifth four-point game of his career. “It was time for that. We knew it was just those one or two bounces that we needed our way. When our line is effective, we slow that game down and play with the puck.”
Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne scored his 607th career goal.
Christian Ehrhoff scored a tiebreaking power-play goal for Vancouver early in the third period. But after Perry tied it by scoring on an open net, Ryan converted a 3-on-1 break against Roberto Luongo, who stopped 28 shots.
“When they scored, I thought to myself, ‘Something has got to happen now,'” said Ryan, who had a handful of ugly giveaways in the first two periods. “‘Something has got to break.’ We were gripping our sticks a little bit. I don’t think there’s any secret there, but we stuck to it.”
Daniel Sedin had a goal and an assist for the Canucks. Sedin and Raffi Torres scored first-period goals 17 seconds apart as Vancouver largely dominated the first two periods of its road opener in a season with Stanley Cup aspirations, but the Canucks left frustrated after letting the Ducks hang around for a win.
“I don’t think we played good enough in the third,” MVP Henrik Sedin said. “We had a lot of chances to score, but they came back and scored twice on turnovers. We should have been up more than one goal. That’s how we felt. But we played hard, we had all four lines going and we had a lot of chances.”
The Ducks’ winless road trip was even uglier in the details: They lost every game by at least three goals while giving up an astonishing 145 shots, most at the beleaguered Hiller.
The Ducks have yielded at least 39 shots in every game this season.
“I don’t think we’re going to frame that one and say, ‘That’s how we want to play,'” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. “Your leaders have to be the guys with the letters on their sweaters and the big contracts. They were feeling a lot of pressure from our 0-3 start.”
The Ducks came alive shortly after Ryan was sent off for a questionable hooking penalty and Ehrhoff’s long shot ricocheted off the shaft of Ducks defenceman Cam Fowler’s stick. Anaheim tied it 3½ minutes later when Getzlaf’s pass found Perry unchecked on the edge of Luongo’s crease.
“If we’re going to be the catalyst for this team, we can’t go 0 for 3,” Ryan said. “It’s a huge monkey off our backs.”
Ryan then poked the puck away from Henrik Sedin at mid-ice and got it ahead to Getzlaf and Perry. The captain passed back to Ryan for his first goal of the season, although Vancouver wondered whether Anaheim had too many men on the ice at the time.
“We should have put them away in the second period,” Vancouver’s Mikael Samuelsson said. “We had a couple of really good shifts, and we’ve got to score on those. But give credit to them. They kept hanging in there, got a couple of breaks and took advantage of them.”
Getzlaf scored a power-play goal early in the first period, but the Ducks’ first lead of the season lasted exactly 76 seconds before Sedin and Torres scored. After back-to-back penalties gave Anaheim another lengthy two-man advantage in the second period, Selanne scored over Luongo’s glove for the 40-year-old Finnish Flash’s first point of the season.
NOTES: The teenage Fowler drove Getzlaf and Selanne to the rink in a Maybach while wearing a black chauffeur’scap. Hazing aside, Fowler had another strong game in his bid to win a full-time job with the Ducks, who have five more games to decide whether to keep him for the season or send him back to his junior team. … D Alexander Edler had two assists for Vancouver, and Manny Malhotra scored his first point for the Canucks.