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HELENE ELLIOTT

A gutsy, great day for Ducks' Ryan Getzlaf

He watches the birth of his daughter, then the stitched-up captain leads Anaheim to a 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars.

April 18, 2014|Helene Elliott

Someday, Ryan Getzlaf will explain to his daughter Willa why he looked like Frankenstein's monster in photos taken the day she was born, his chin and cheek zippered with stitches and a purple bruise blossoming on the left side of his face.

Getzlaf, who scored the Ducks' first goal in their 3-2 playoff victory over the Dallas Stars on Friday night at Honda Center, probably will say the whole thing was no big deal. Daddy took a puck in the face and it hurt for a while but he was there when she was born. After he took a nap he played a game, scored a goal, set up another, and boosted the Ducks to a 2-0 series lead.

That's all. Just a rising slap shot directly to the face that left him with a deep laceration, a loosened bridge, and so many stitches that doctors couldn't count all the layers of sutures. The Ducks' captain was ordered to wear a clear, plastic half-mask Friday to protect the lower half of his face, much to his distaste.

SUMMARY: Ducks 3, Dallas Stars 2

But never was there any doubt he'd play.

"Once we established that my jaw wasn't broken — that was the main focus — if it was set in place and everything was OK, then I was going to be able to go," he said, his speech thickened by his swollen mouth and lower lip. "And then it was just a matter of getting some sleep.''

The injuries that would drive lesser mortals to scream in agony are badges of courage for hockey players. No matter how many teeth you might be picking up off the ice or how much blood you shed, you tape an aspirin to your wound and get back out there because the biggest sin in hockey is to let your teammates down.

But even for hockey players, Getzlaf has had an extraordinary few days.

Carrying over his fine play during the regular season — he was the runner-up to Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby in the NHL scoring race — Getzlaf scored the Ducks' second goal Wednesday in their 4-3 series-opening win. He missed the final few seconds after he got between the net and Tyler Seguin's rising shot while trying to protect that lead.

Getzlaf was treated by doctors on site and came to the rink Thursday morning to practice. As a precaution, he was held off the ice and instead rode a stationary bike.

His wife, Paige, went into labor about 10:30 Thursday night and delivered their daughter at 12:36 a.m. Friday. "I was icing my face as she was trying to push a baby out," he said.

Afterward, she sent him home to rest so he could play Friday. "My wife was great about it," he said.

About eight hours later, Getzlaf reported to Honda Center for the team's game-day skate but Coach Bruce Boudreau also told him to go home and sleep. The nap apparently did wonders for Getzlaf, who played 19 minutes and 40 seconds and was a team-best plus-3 defensively.

He delivered a crunching hit on Alex Goligoski in the first two minutes and tied the score at 1-1 by stealing the puck from Erik Cole and going from backhand to forehand before lifting a shot over Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen at 17:14 of the first period.

"That was huge," linemate Corey Perry said. "What a great play by him, stealing the puck and being a beast going to the net. That's the type of player he is and he showed what he can do."

Getzlaf also set up Andrew Cogliano's short-handed goal at 5:09 of the third with a cross-ice pass but was penalized for tripping Dallas' Kevin Connauton with three minutes left. The Ducks bailed him out, with a lot of help from poised goaltender Frederik Andersen.

Getzlaf even managed to go to the hospital before the game to hold his daughter for a few minutes. Not a bad day, all in all. But he insisted the Ducks haven't accomplished anything yet.

"We're up 2-0. That's all we've done," he said. "That's the same as the season. We played great during the regular season and that's over and now we've got two wins. We've got to get four. The next one's now the biggest one that we can go after."

Just add that to the stories he can tell his daughter some day.

helene.elliott@latimes.com

Twitter: @helenenothelen

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