The Anaheim Ducks spent most of the 2010s among the top in the league. They led the Pacific Division five times and ranked second in it twice more. It was a powerful 10 years, on the backs of the sensational, defence-first duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
And while this duo is extremely well-known for their 200-foot play, it’s their heart that truly led the Ducks to so much success. The air was sensational in their do-or-die attitude, making the ability to surge from behind commonplace for the Ducks. It’s this never-dying spirit that embodied the true meaning of an “Anaheim Ducks Moment” through the 2010s and one that bore no better example than in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Finding the Most “Anaheim Ducks” Moment of the Decade
The 2016-17 Anaheim Ducks
The Second Round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs marked a bout between the Ducks and Edmonton Oilers. Anaheim was coming off a First Round sweep over the Calgary Flames, where each aspect of their terrific lineup was on full display; the one-two punch of Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler on offence, the duo of Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm backing them up, and the ever-emerging John Gibson in net.
In short, Anaheim was a true powerhouse. But at the same time, the Connor McDavid-led Oilers were strong in their own right, coming off a strong First Round of their own. Aside from the usual spectacles from players like McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers were also flanked with admirable depth. Cam Talbot led the league in games played during the regular season, with an astonishing 73. In that span, he set an equally impressive .919 save percentage and 2.39 goals-against-average. Pat Maroon was also experiencing a breakout year, tallying 27 goals and 42 points: the first 20-goal season of his career, and only to-date.
The Oilers were a strong team, looking to return the city to the glory it had lacked for decades. But to do so they needed to get past an Anaheim team that was loaded with talent. It was a heavily anticipated, hard-fought series; with one game in-particular going down in history.
The Comeback On Katella
Game Five was a crucial game. With the series tied at 2-2, both teams were desperate for some sort of momentum. This was only emphasized following Game Four’s need for extra time, which saw the Ducks would go on to win after only 45 seconds of OT play.
And while Game Four’s quick OT win boosted up Anaheim, it didn’t carry into Game Five. Across the first 56 minutes of play, the Oilers controlled everything. They had a commanding three-goal lead, 3-0, come the late-goings of the third period. In a desperate attempt to gain traction, Anaheim pulled Gibson with less than four minutes to go.
Shortly after, the puck was being shoved around in the Oilers zone before being worked up to Getzlaf at the point. The Ducks captain then rifled a 90s-esque slapshot that dodged the traffic jam in front of the Talbot, nearly tearing through the net on its way in. It was a gorgeous shot that ruined the Oilers shutout and brought Anaheim back to life. But the Oilers weren’t broken yet. They still held a commanding two-goal lead and only had 3:17 to play. That determination was short-lived, though. Fowler would quickly follow Getzlaf’s footsteps, burying a goal of his own only 35 seconds later; with a gorgeous wrist shot from the high slot.
The Controversial Third
Fowler’s goal dramatically brought the Ducks back into the game, now only down by one. Following it was two minutes of very exciting hockey, bringing the game within its final 20 seconds. In these last seconds, Fowler again held strong, nicely keeping the puck in the Oilers zone. He then shot it towards the crowded net, where chaos immediately ensued. The puck was lost in the crash of bodies in front of the net until it squirted out; right onto the stick of Rickard Rakell. Rakell weakly threw the puck right back into the mass of bodies with just enough force to find its way through Talbot’s legs and into the back of the net. The goal was reviewed for quite some time but eventually was called a good goal. The game was tied with 15 seconds left.
It was an amazing comeback. The Ducks managed to rally back from a three-goal deficit to force overtime in under four minutes of play. And while tightly contested, the first overtime settled nothing. The teams were instead forced to drag on to a second OT, following 80 minutes of grueling hockey.
At the start of the second overtime period, things were again incredibly close. Both teams went back-and-forth until just before the halfway mark of the period when the Ducks officially inked what was simply the most “Anaheim Ducks” moment of the decade. And in that fashion, the moment was forged by the amazing duo of Getzlaf and Perry. With just over 13 minutes to go in the frame, Getzlaf had the puck along the boards, looking in front of the net. There, he found an incoming Perry and delivered a clean, firm pass right to his tape. With the puck, Perry made a quick move to get Talbot on the ice before lifting the puck over him and lifting the Ducks to the win.
It was an absolutely picture-perfect goal in any context, made all the more special in this context. With this beautiful move, Perry and Getzlaf capped off one of the greatest comebacks in recent memory, a feat so impressive that only the do-or-die 2016-17 Anaheim Ducks could pull it off.
An Improbable Win
The team spilled over the boards and celebrated in front of their roaring home crowd. They would go on to lose Game Six quite dramatically but took Game Seven, and the series, with a gritty 2-1 win. And while Games Six and Seven were clearly important, it was the amazing comeback in Game Five that sealed the deal in many Ducks fans hearts.