ANAHEIM -- There was Ryan Getzlaf's power-play goal in the first period and an assist in the second.
But the Anaheim Ducks captain issued another series-sending message in the third period when he leveled Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano with less than six minutes remaining in the Ducks' 3-2 win in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round at Honda Center on Thursday.
All this was simply a continuation of Getzlaf taking his play to another level, which essentially started after the Ducks had their mandated break in early March.
"I think Ryan Getzlaf's season really turned at the five-day break," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "It wasn't like he was a poor player before that. But his ability to step up and dominate in games has been very evident from that point forward.
"Tonight was just an example of our guy making the difference."
Carlyle wasn't speaking specifically about the hit, but the total performance by Getzlaf, who had the goal, the assist and four hits and seemed to be everywhere, logging 23:57.
The hit on Giordano was crowd pleasing, to be sure, considering the Flames defenseman was the subject of fan displeasure in Anaheim, a byproduct of his knee-on-knee hit on Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler in the last week of the regular season. (Fowler is out for 2 to 6 weeks).
"It was nothing versus him," Getzlaf said. "He was just the guy that had the puck and it was something where he kind of turned and I don't think he saw me coming. I tried to keep my shoulder down and stay on my feet … just went through the body."
There were so many little moments -- and big ones -- leading to the win. The Ducks have won 28 straight regular-season and Stanley Cup Playoff games against the Flames at Honda Center.
The game-changing moment came in the second period when the Flames erred with a shoddy line change, leaving goaltender Brian Elliott to deal with the consequences. Ducks forward Rickard Rakell buried the rebound to tie the game 2-2 at 13:53, and Anaheim went ahead on Jakob Silfverberg's power-play goal at 17:47.
Elliott had the best view of his team's bad line change, seeing three Ducks bearing down on him.
"All I saw was three guys coming," Elliott said. "You try to stand your ground but … that can't happen at this time of year. We've got to protect ourselves, especially in the second period.
"It's tough when we give them everything. Two power-play goals and a bad change. It's not like they really earned it that much. We kind of gave it to them, so … if we clean things up we'll take care of business."
The Flames gave up too many penalties -- seven in all -- but Elliott acknowledged: "We had every chance in the world to tie it up in the end with the 5-on-3. They capitalized and we didn't."
Elliott was talking about their two-man advantage for 1:14 late in the third period, but the Ducks also put on an impressive display of penalty killing.
"We had a couple of clears, off the faceoff was big," Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "Then we had a couple of clears after that. Anytime you can get the puck down the ice, all of sudden they're coming back and trying to get zone entry and it limits their opportunities to make plays."
Ducks goaltender John Gibson fought his way through a ragged performance but was sharp when he needed to be late in the game. "As the game went on, I felt better," he said.
Said Bieksa: "[Gibson] battled tonight. There were some chances there where he was on his knees and sprawling and made some big saves.
"You need those from your goalie. You need those for wins. There's a lot of little plays like that that define the outcome of the game. He's got to be good for us to have a chance."
The Ducks are getting terrific service on their first power-play unit, from Silfverberg, who was having an excellent night even before he scored the game-winning goal. But Silfverberg also believed the turning point came on the Flames' botched line change, because the momentum had been shifting away from Anaheim at that point.
"That was a big moment for us, and it swung our way," he said. "It was a bit of a lucky break, but that's what happens in playoffs. It's things like that that can turn a game around, and it did tonight."
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