SPORTS

Ducks and 'never-die attitude' are third-period mirror image of Flames

04/27/2015 02:52 EDT | Updated 07/30/2015 02:59 EDT
The comeback kids from Calgary will see their third-period dopplegangers in the "never-die" Anaheim Ducks in the second round of the NHL playoffs.

Like the Flames, the Ducks picked up 24 points when trailing after two periods during the regular season. And in a four-game sweep of the Winnipeg Jets, Anaheim became the first team in history to win three straight playoff games when trailing at any point in the third period.

"It's our never-die attitude," said winger Corey Perry, whose seven points led the Ducks. "The way we respond after (giving up) goals and not get too emotionally high or too low, that's going to help us through."

The Flames used their comebacks to withstand a season-ending injury to captain Mark Giordano and make an improbable run to the playoffs. Propelled by their comebacks, the Ducks claimed the top seed in the Pacific Division.

"We win. We don't care how — we just win," centre Ryan Kesler said. "We've been doing it all year. We win in different ways and the majority of times we are down in games. But for whatever reason that's when this team plays their best is when we're down and we're pushing."

Players talk of a "belief" in the locker-room and on the bench when trailing, something that subconsciously helps the Ducks. It doesn't hurt that they have Perry, Kesler, Ryan Getzlaf and a host of other players capable of scoring timely goals.

That's why the Ducks expressed little to no concern about leading for just over 11 minutes in their first three games against Winnipeg and a total of 53:29 all series.

"We've been doing that all season," Perry said. "It's not the ideal situation. We've found a way. We've fought back and we've found a way to win."

Coach Bruce Boudreau would love for his team to flip the switch, so to speak, earlier, but he doesn't mind the extra confidence boost that comes with so many comebacks.

"How often do you see a team in football, there's 1:10 left and they've got the ball on the 30 and you know that they're going to go all the way down and score?" Boudreau said. "I think it's just the adrenalin that gets going, and once you get on a positive roll and you start to believe it, usually the other team says, 'Uh oh, here they come again,' and your team says, 'We're going to do it, we're going to get it done.'"

That's a hallmark of Boudreau-coached teams, dating to his time in Washington. The Ducks' and Flames' 24 points earned this season when trailing after two periods trailed only the Detroit Red Wings.

Jets players who lacked the post-season experience of their first-round opponents conceded the Ducks' ability to come back so well got to them.

"You've got to give them credit, they don't stop," Winnipeg centre Bryan Little said after Game 3. "They go right to the end of the game. It almost gets in your head how good they are at it."

It's almost like the Ducks and Flames each thrive off the sense of urgency that comes with trailing. But Kesler said he and his teammates don't need to trail to turn it on in the third period, something they proved in Game 4 at MTS Centre.

"We find that extra gear when maybe the other team relaxes and we pour it on," Kesler said. "That's when we generate and that's when we score."

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