WINNIPEG – Ryan Kesler heard more than 15,000 Jets fans boo him and chant “Kesler sucks” — and he loved it.
So when he scored Anaheim’s 4-4 tying goal with 2:14 left in the third period on Monday, it was sweet revenge that was capped off by teammate Rickard Rakell’s overtime winner.
“I love it. Energizes me,” Kesler said of the loud, white-clad crowd at MTS Centre. “Dad told me that, ‘You must be doing something right if people are all over you.’ So it’s obviously a tribute to what I do on the ice.
“It was a great win by the boys tonight. It was a hard-fought effort.”
His coach appreciated his effort in particular.
“This is when he’s good, when the crowd’s on him,” Bruce Boudreau said. “He loves that and he comes to the fore.
“Sometimes he’ll take a penalty, but it’s because he’s aggressive and playing hard against the opponent. We’ll take all of those penalties that he takes because usually it’s an aggressive penalty.”
Rakell’s winner on a deflection of Francois Beauchemin’s point shot boosted the Ducks to a 3-0 series lead — and set NHL history.
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Anaheim is the first team to win three consecutive playoff games when trailing at any point in the third period in all three games, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Game 4 goes Wednesday in Winnipeg.
“We don’t stop believing in that room,” said Kesler, who also had an assist. “It’s been like that all year.
“To do it in playoffs, in three straight games, it’s pretty special. There’s something special growing in that locker-room right now.”
Cam Fowler, Corey Perry and Jakob Silfverberg also scored for Anaheim. Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano each had a pair of assists.
“That’s the biggest thing, that confidence we have in our group that a game is never over for us,” Silfverberg said.
Lee Stempniak, Tyler Myers, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little scored for Winnipeg.
“It’s hard to put a finger on it. If we knew what it was, we’d fix it,” Little said.
“You’ve got to give them credit, they don’t stop. They go right to the end of the game. It almost gets in your head how good they are at it. They’ve done it to us three in a row now. A couple bounces either way tonight and we could’ve had a different outcome.”
Frederik Andersen made 31 saves for the Ducks, while Ondrej Pavelec stopped 26 shots.
Andersen said yet another comeback was “huge” for his team, especially with the crowd noise that was amped for the playoffs.
“Everything was a little bit louder today,” he said. “It was really fun to play in, a really special environment.”