ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Chin heavily bandaged, cheek scraped raw and eyes bloodshot red, Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf took the ice Friday night against the Dallas Stars looking far worse for wear than your typical NHL player after just one playoff game.
But most don’t experience in a season what Getzlaf went through in the previous 48 hours.
The 28-year-old team captain shook off the pain and discomfort of taking a slap shot to his face in Wednesday’s opener of the Western Conference quarterfinals and the emotions that accompanied the birth of his daughter in the wee hours Friday morning, producing a goal and assist in the 3-2 victory against the Stars and helping the Ducks to a 2-0 series lead heading back to Dallas for Game 3.
"He’s a leader on this team for a reason," linemate Corey Perry said.
Getzlaf said the only hurdle he needed to get past in order to play in Game 2 was the X-ray that revealed his jaw wasn’t broken after he took a vicious slap shot off the upper chin from Tyler Seguin in the closing seconds of Wednesday’s 4-3 win.
Then, late Thursday night, as he and his wife, Paige, were getting ready to turn out the lights, she went into labor. About 2½ hours later, they added Willa to the family, who joins sons Ryder and Gavin. Getzlaf was ready to settle into the hospital room for the night, but Paige had other plans.
"Once she was settled, she made sure I went home and got a little bit of rest so that I can play tonight," he said. "Once I went through the warm-ups and those kinds of things -- and got my feet under me -- it was OK."
Getzlaf laid a hit on Alex Goligoski on his first shift, which he said "helps get those little nerves out of the way." After the Stars took a 1-0 lead, Getzlaf then made a play so typical of his career when he stole the puck from left wing Erik Cole and beat goalie Kari Lehtonen up high to knot the score at one with just more than two minutes left in the opening period.
"That was huge," Perry said. "What a great play by him, stealing the puck and scoring on that. That’s the type of player he is, and he showed what he can do."
After Perry scored in the second period to give Anaheim a 2-1 lead, Getzlaf helped provide a crucial two-goal cushion when he hooked up with center Andrew Cogliano for a short-handed goal in the third period.
Cogliano was battling for the puck with Dallas defenseman Sergei Gonchar behind the net when Gonchar’s stick broke. Getzlaf and Cogliano still had four Stars they had to work around, but Getzlaf managed to get the puck back to Cogliano, who put the puck high in the net for a 3-1 advantage.
Getzlaf's night even impressed teammate Teemu Selanne, who has some experience with playoff points (83) and children (four).
"The last 24 hours, what has happened to him, that shows a lot of character," Selanne said. "He’s Mr. Incredible. It took him a long time to realize he can be the best player in the league, but he’s finally got it."