WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — After making quick work of the Winnipeg Jets, the Anaheim Ducks now get a chance to relax and regroup before the next round of the playoffs.
Ryan Kesler scored twice in the third period and Anaheim beat Winnipeg 5-2 on Wednesday night to sweep their Western Conference first-round series.
“We didn’t come here to win one series,” Kesler said. “We came here for the whole thing.”
The Ducks will next face Calgary or Vancouver in the second round. The Flames lead that series 3-1 heading into Game 5 on Thursday night in Vancouver.
“It’s going to be nice to sit back and just recover,” said Ducks star Corey Perry, who had two assists to finish with seven points in the series. “When you’re playing a hockey game where there’s 100 hits, it’s going to take a toll on you so you’ve got to just sit back, relax and get ready.”
Kesler had another big night in front of a raucous whiteout crowd at MTS Centre that jeered him again.
“Amazing, especially when they’re heckling at you and they’re booing you,” said Kesler, who played two seasons in Winnipeg for the Manitoba Moose in Vancouver’s farm system. “Obviously, I wanted to silence this crowd tonight, and that’s what we did.”
Kesler finished with three goals and two assists in the series, took some pleasure in the way his team played after some experts and fans picked the Jets to win.
“I heard a lot of talk about how we were the underdogs going in and no one was giving us credit,” he said. “The fact that we came out here and won two games at home right off the bat and then came into this building, which it’s a tough building to play in, and the fashion that we won it in, it’s pretty incredible.”
Andrew Cogliano, Emerson Etem and Sam Vatanen — into an empty net — also scored, and Frederik Andersen made 25 saves. The Ducks are the first team to advance to the second round.
“I never thought it would be 4-0 in my wildest dreams,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I thought it would be a six, or seven-game series.”
Bryan Little and Mark Stuart scored for Winnipeg.
The Jets/Atlanta Thrashers franchise remains without a playoff victory through 15 seasons of its existence. The only previous playoff appearance was in 1999 in Atlanta, a sweep at the hands of the New York Rangers.
Winnipeg opened the scoring Little’s power-play goal with 3:34 left in the first period. Anaheim tied it on Etem’s goal with 2:08 left in the period.
After an ineffective Winnipeg power play in which it failed to get a shot on goal, the Ducks used more of their slick skill to take the lead. Hampus Lindholm’s drop pass to Perry got the puck in the hands of Anaheim’s best playmaker, and he the Jets’ Dustin Byfuglien and fed Cogliano for the go-ahead goal at 12:55 of the second.
For the first time all series, the Jets didn’t take a lead into the second intermission. It didn’t matter, as they couldn’t get into any third-period rhythm and gave up a goal to Kesler at the 6:41 mark to fall behind 3-1.
MTS Centre was full of nervous energy and generally quiet for most of the third, until the TV timeout at the 10:24 mark. Three seconds later the place erupted when Stuart’s point shot beat Andersen to cut it to 3-2.
Kesler made it 4-2 on a 2-on-1 rush with 4:49 left.
“Anaheim was better than we were in this series,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “There’s luck in a game maybe in the series, but over a potential seven-game series the best team almost always wins, and they were better than we were.”
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