Getz shows grit

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:04 PM ET

LETHBRIDGE -- This time there would be no collapse. Ryan Getzlaf simply wouldn't allow it. He'd done too much earlier in the night to allow the Calgary Hitmen to fold like they did in Game 1.

Collecting a crucial goal and an assist in a game he dominated all night, Getzlaf not only sent the series back to Calgary tied 1-1, he also helped sell a whole lot of tickets for Game 3 Tuesday.

That's what special players do.

Shut down one night earlier by the Hurricanes' checking line, Getzlaf waited until his team was out-shot 8-0 in Game 2 before piecing together the type of effort that earned him the captaincy and a first-round selection by Anaheim.

With the sold-out crowd of 5,253 at the Enmax Centre riding the high of an early powerplay marker, Getzlaf went to work midway through the first when he stole a clearing effort at the Hurricanes' blueline and turned it into his first goal in eight outings against Lethbridge this year.

Coach Kelly Kisio praised the sniper for regaining the momentum.

"That goal obviously turned this game around and allowed us to escape the first period unscathed," explained Kisio. "That's what leaders have to do and he does it all."

Late in the period, with the 'Canes pressing hard again, Getzlaf was brilliant on a penalty kill that saw him block a dangerous shot from John Lammers and end another dangerous foray with a clearing pass on the same shift.

Never one to neglect his defensive duties, the man who led Canada's juniors in plus/minus in January exhibited the same tempered feistiness that makes him one of junior hockey's most versatile players.

Involved in every shift, the captain led the way he was expected to, as both a powerplay point man and centre capable of doing so many things to create problems. A perfect example came three minutes into the second when he fed a pass to the point and immediately provided the perfect screen in front of netminder Aaron Sorochan allowing Shaun Landolt to put Calgary up 2-1.

This despite the fact Calgary was being outshot 21-10.

Minutes later Getzlaf was penalty killing again when linemate Andrew Ladd blocked a point shot, moved in on a breakaway and put the visitors up 3-1.

It was then the Hurricanes realized there was only one way to get back into the game: By eliminating the man stealing it from them. Lethbridge defenceman Mark Ashton took a lengthy run at the unsuspecting forward, delivering a hit that prompted Landolt to hunt Ashton down after the whistle.

After dusting himself off, Getzlaf showed his grit by staying on the ice for the next shift.

When the hosts narrowed the gap to 3-2 late in the evening Getzlaf spent the last two minutes on the ice helping kill time intelligently.

"It's not about getting an empty-net goal -- I have enough goals," said the game's first star.

"It's about the win and icing it doesn't help. The score sheet doesn't tell you everything."

The result does.

There was never any question the Hitmen would need the type of effort Getzlaf threw together last night if his club was to have any chance against a deep Lethbridge squad.

However, with only six of his 29 goals this season coming in the road, some wondered if Getzlaf would wait until Tuesday's home date to try avenging three years of playoff frustration.

He didn't.

And because of it, we now have a series -- a series sure to capture attention in Calgary as it has in the 'Bridge.

After Friday's series-opening loss Getzlaf said candidly said his club "owed" Pogge for his efforts.

Last night he paid him back.

Personally.


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