Tell me where you’ve heard this before.
A star player for the Anaheim Ducks goes down with a brutal injury on a brutal hit and you think to yourself, “hmmm. I’m not going to see that player play hockey again until next season.”
Said player miraculously returns just moments later and, as if the game were being scripted by God, ends up scoring a big goal.
This was the script last night, as Ducks forward Corey Perry somehow returned to action in Game 5 against the Calgary Flames last night after a devastating hit to the knee by Calgary forward Matt Stajan. Perry returned mere moments later, to the bewilderment and fascination of basically everybody.
Corey Perry just had one of the quickest 9-12 month rehabs ever.
— SportsPickle (@sportspickle) May 11, 2015
So, obviously, when the game went to overtime, it was Perry who pushed the puck over the line, clinching the series for Anaheim.
Kariya Did it First
The fairy-tale ending to the series last night was incredible but it was also all-too familiar. You see, Perry wasn’t the first Anaheim player to rise from the dead and score a big goal in the playoffs. The only difference was, the team went by a different name the last time it happened.
In the 2003 Stanley Cup Final between the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and the New Jersey Devils, Paul Kariya created, perhaps, one of the greatest, feel-good sports moments of the 21st century. At the 6:16 mark of the 2nd period of game 6 (with Anaheim down in the series 3 games to 2), Scott Stevens of New Jersey delivered one of his patented, game-changing body checks on Anaheim captain Paul Kariya.
Kariya looked like a corpse out there on the ice. We all thought he was dead, as he lay there motionless. He eventually was helped off the ice and immediately went down the hallway to the dressing room, where we all thought he’d stay for quite a while.
He came back less than 5 minutes later.
And I’ll let Gary Thorne take it from here.
It’s an all-time classic moment and Perry recreated it for us last night. Much like with Kariya, we all sort of thought Perry’s season was over. He had the last laugh though and now his team is playing in the Western Conference Final.