ANAHEIM, Calif. — No doubt about it: Corey Perry had a horrible regular season (by Corey Perry standards) and was off to a relatively lackluster start in the playoffs.
He was as invisible as the flesh colored beard on his face.
The one-time 50 goal scorer has two goals in the playoffs (7 points all together). Yes, that doesn’t seem like much, but considering the magnitude of the goals, they’re kind of a big deal.
The first was scored in overtime against the Calgary Flames when the Ducks overcame a three goal deficit to win in overtime.
The second came after the Ducks record setting three goals in 3:01 to tie the game. Pushed into double-overtime, Perry netted the game winner.
Rickard Rakell battles to get the puck to Ryan Getzlaf along the boards. That’s when Perry saw his opportunity.
“[I went] right to the net,” said Perry. “I knew [Getzlaf] had eyes up. He had time. I was yelling for that puck the whole way … When I saw I had an opening to the net, I knew what I wanted to do.”
“I’ll take ‘em whenever I can get ‘em, I guess,” said Perry on his overtime goals with a laugh. “It’s nice to see them go in, it doesn’t matter when. They’ve been two in overtime. It’s been fun.”
After Patrick Eaves was injured, Randy Carlyle elected to move Perry back up to a line with Getzlaf and Rakell. That appeared to spark the forwards game.
“You know you’re going to get your chances [with Rakell and Getzlaf], said Perry. “You know you’re going to play lots. You’re going to get your ice time.
“I’m just trying to do what I’ve done my whole career. It’s going to the net, getting dirty, making things count.”
Ryan Getzlaf echoed his compatriot, “[Perry’s] a big time player. He always has been. When he gets in his comfort zone, he’s getting a little more ice time here and there with some injuries and stuff.
“He’s finding a groove and he’s playing really well away from the puck and that’s the biggest thing.”
Randy Carlyle would have none of it when asked about the struggles in Perry’s game this year.
“That’s the thing, the criticism that has been directed towards Corey Perry for lack of offensive production over the course of the season, there’s lots of it that has went his way, and it’s not always the individual,” said Carlyle. “You cannot always look at the individual and say that ‘hey that he’s supposed to do this’ or ‘he’s supposed to do that.’ The game evolves. People change.
“The one thing you can’t stop is that [metaphorical] clock … the things that you were able to accomplish a year ago or year and a half ago aren’t the same things you can accomplish now, but he still made a huge contribution to our hockey club.
“He’s scored big goals in different situations, not only for us, but Team Canada; Olympics, World Championships. So why would we think that he couldn’t do it now, and there’s a perfect example of a guy reaching back and getting the job done.”
The focus now shifts to the Ducks closing out the series in Edmonton on Sunday.
“Momentum swings in the playoffs in the playoffs are so drastic and they mean so much that if you’re able to get one, you start to believe, and it sends a different message to the opposition,” added Carlyle. “You get two, and then it really sends a ‘oh we can get this done.’ The intensity level from your perspective goes up dramatically. We just found a way and willed it across the line in the end.
“It’s a great achievement for our players, and we should feel good about ourselves, but the next one will be the most important one. It’ll be the toughest one in their building.”
‘The most important one.’ It’s Carlyle’s favorite post-game mantra.
When asked about the next game being the most important after the wild game that ended nearly four hours after it started, Getzlaf said it best: “I can’t even think right now.”