No more tilting at second-round windmills.
For the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2007, the Ducks got out of the second round of the playoffs. They reached the NHL's Final Four, earning a showdown against Chicago in the Western Conference finals, starting this week.
Maybe it was climbing, or surviving, to get into the second round. On Sunday, there also was an element of escape as the Ducks fought off the pesky Calgary Flames in Game 5, winning, 3-2 in overtime at Honda Center, taking the series, four games to one.
The series-clincher was scored by none other than the Ducks' leading playoff scorer, Corey Perry, who opportunistically pushed it across the line after a scramble of activity around Flames goalie Karri Ramo, at 2 minutes 26 seconds into overtime. Ramo immediately protested to one of the officials.
For Perry, it was his seventh goal and 15th point of the playoffs and it came on the same night where it appeared he had suffered a serious injury and had to leave the game, briefly.
"It didn't feel great when it happened but it calmed down," Perry said. "You'll do anything to help your team win a playoff game. First time I've done that in OT, pretty special."
Then there was the man behind the Ducks' bench. There would be no more tilting at the playoff windmill for Coach Bruce Boudreau, who earned a measure of vindication by getting out of the second round for the first time in his long career.
"We've lost those games. Now we've won them. Eight down, eight to go," Beleskey said. "Bruce has dedicated his life to this. Great to see him do this. Not sure how high he can jump, but I'm sure he was jumping for joy."
That was one of the gaps on his resume. But Boudreau, who was coaching in his 66th playoff game, closed it in dramatic fashion. He never managed to get out of the second round in Washington and in Anaheim he had top-notch teams stumble. The Ducks lost to the Detroit Red Wings in the first round in seven games in 2013 and went out to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Kings in the second round in 2014.
The record book will show that the Ducks did this by losing only one game in two rounds. But they twice needed overtime games in this series, losing one, before subduing the Flames and required a series of third-period comebacks against the Winnipeg Jets in the opening round.
In Game 5, they got to overtime, sparked by Beleskey, who scored his fifth goal of the series, off a nice deflection in front off a shot from defenseman Francois Beauchemin. His goal came on a power play in the opening minute of the third period as Mikael Backlund's slashing penalty at the end of the second period carried over.
Beleskey did not score in the first round but had a goal in each game in this series, establishing a franchise record. He had shared the record with the now-retired Teemu Selanne and Perry, who had each scored in four consecutive games.
The Flames, meanwhile, have found Honda Center to be a cartoonish house of hazards, having not won at the venue since the playoffs in 2006. They were outscored, 9-1, in the opening two games of the playoffs but put forth a far more determined effort in Game 5.
It was chippy, tense and hard-fought, by all measures. The definition of playoff hockey. Though the Ducks were outshooting the Flames by a wide margin in the third period, 11-1, at one point and, 13-4, with 4:20 remaining and the score remained tied, 2-2.
That was a continual theme for the Flames.
Despite being outshot, 14-5, in the second period, the Flames managed to take a 2-1 lead, heading into the third period.
Rookie Johnny Gaudreau took advantage of a Ducks turnover and capitalized from the slot, beating goalie Frederik Andersen with a shot that appeared to be deflected.
The goal came at 5:55 on the Flames' first shot of the period. It also came 56 seconds after Kesler had equalized, beating Ramo on the glove side.
The Ducks survived what appeared to be a serious scare late in the second period when Perry got clipped in the leg, via the Flames Matt Stajan. Perry fell and grabbed his knee and hobbled off the ice, looking as though he couldn't put any weight on his leg.
He immediately went to the dressing room. But he returned to the bench by the end of the second period and was out for a regular shift in the third period.
"I didn't know what to think," Perry said. "I just wanted to get back in there and play the next shift. I felt better each shift."