DETROIT, Mich. - In a series that was promoted as a battle of elite defenseman, Game 1 went exactly as expected.
Kunitz tied it in the third with his first of the playoffs, but the Ducks could get no more.
One of those D-man, reigning Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom, broke a 1-1 tie with 4:54 remaining on a slap shot goal from the left point to give the Red Wings a 1-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals at Joe Louis Arena.
Lidstrom's shot on the power play hit Ducks goalie J.S. Giguere up high as he was screened in front by Detroit forward Tomas Holstrom. It trickled behind Giguere, and a diving Francois Beauchemin couldn't scoop it away as it crossed near the right post.
It looked as if Holmstrom might have interfered with Giguere in front of the net, as he did bump him around the time the puck arrived. But a check of the replay still gave the goal to Detroit. The Wings were on the man advantage after Ryan Getzlaf took a regrettable slashing minor 33 seconds earlier.
The Ducks did everything they could to tie it back up, emptying their net with 2:12 remaining. But they couldn't get anything past the Detroit D, despite having a 6 on 4 for the last 13.4 seconds after a Wings delay of game penalty.
"As far as our hockey club and the work ethic we displayed, the commitment that came forth, I thought our game was pretty good," said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle.
Anaheim had originally knotted things up early in the third on Chris Kunitz's first goal of the playoffs. Ryan Getzlaf skated into the Detroit zone and left a perfect drop pass to Kunitz, who unleashed a wrister from the slot that slid past the kicked-out left leg of Hasek.
Lidstrom and teammate Chris Chelios, along with Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger anchored strong goal-preventing efforts by both sides. The Joe Louis arena ice played like a dormitory closet all night, with little room for either team to operate. And the hallowed men in the masks - Giguere and Detroit's Dominik Hasek - stopped virtually anything that got past their respective teammates.
So it was fitting that the only goal of the first two periods was a bit of a quirky one. Just 3:34 into the game, with Detroit on its first power play of the night. Henrik Zetterberg took a "might-as-well" shot from deep in the Anaheim zone, even with the left post. The shot ricocheted off a diving Francois Beauchemin enough to change direction slightly and scoot between Giguere's legs.
But that was all either team could muster over the first 40 minutes, despite scoring chances on both ends. Giguere and Hasek each guarded their net with authority, though Hasek had some help. Ryan Getzlaf's blazing slap shot from the slot on the Ducks power play six minutes into the first pinged off the crossbar and shot back toward the blue line.
Giguere only needed to make 17 saves, while Hasek had 31.
"You have to give your opposition credit," Carlyle said. "They're a good hockey club. They pushed things to the outside. [Hasek] made some big stops."
Todd Marchant played significant minutes for the Ducks in his first game since March 31, after sitting out with a groin injury.
Game 2 is back here Sunday night at 4:30 Pacific.
"We'll have to make some adjustments and continue to push our group and come back with a stronger effort than we displayed tonight," Carlyle said.
19:46 - DET PENALTY - Henrik Zetterberg, 2 min. delay of game. Zetterberg sends the puck over the ice. The Ducks will go 6 on 4 with 13.4 remaining.
17:48 - The Anaheim net is empty.
16:41 - DETROIT PENALTY - Robert Lang, 2 min. hooking. The Ducks have a chance with the man advantage.
15:06 - DETROIT GOAL (POWER PLAY) - NICKLAS LIDSTROM - Lidstrom takes a slap shot from the left point that hits Giguere up high, as he's screened in front by Tomas Holstrom. It trickles behind Giguere, and a diving Francois Beauchemin
can't scoop it away as it crosses near the right post. It looked as if Holmstrom might have interefered with Giguere in front of the net, as he did bump him before the puck arrived. But a check of the replay still gave the goal to Detroit. Mikael Samuelson and Holmstrom get assists.
14:33 - ANA PENALTY - Ryan Getzlaf
, 2 min. slashing. Getzlaf reacts to what he might have thought was a high stick by swinging at Brett Lebda as Lebda skates away.
14:05 - Hasek makes great saves on a Pronger slap shot and the Penner rebound try.
13:31 - Shawn Thornton just finished a phenomenal shift in which he controlled the puck for most of it and got off two shots.
11:32 - A chant of "Let's go Red Wings" fills the joint.
At the timeout, they put Marge and Homer Simpson on the video board to pump up the crowd. Interesting choice.
9:08 - Hasek skates way out to the right circle to poke away the puck, making the crowd clearly uneasy.
7:20 - Giguere slides over the make a nice save on a Zetterberg shot from the right circle off a Datsyuk pass.
6:14 - ANA PENALTY - Andy McDonald, 2 min. holding the stick. That knocks out the Ducks power play and will soon give Detroit one.
5:48 - Hasek makes a fortunate save on a Selanne slap shot. Replays show he barely saw the shot and happened to have his left pad in the right place.
4:46 - DET PENALTY - Dan Cleary, 2 min. tripping. Cleary brings down Selanne with his stick in the Detroit zone.
4:11 - ANA and DET PENALTIES - Scott Niedermayer and Tomas Holstrom, 2 min. each roughing. Things get a little testy against the glass near the Anaheim blue line as Scott Niedermayer and Pavel Datsyuk go at it after Niedermayer lies on top of Datsyuk. Holmstrom gets a minor when he joins the fray.
1:35 - ANAHEIM GOAL - CHRIS KUNITZ - Ryan Getzlaf
skates into the Detroit zone and leaves a perfect drop pass to Kunitz behind him. Kunitz unleashes a wrister from the slot that Hasek tries to kick with his left pad and can't get it. It's 1-1 and a collective "awww" runs through The Joe. Scott Niedermayer gets the second assist.
1:23 - Zetterberg races down 1 on 1 against Pronger and gets off a shot that Giguere stops.
0:41 - Hasek nicely thwarts a wraparound try by Corey Perry
0:00 - The third is underway with the Ducks needing a goal to tie things up. We're 4 on 4 to start after the Beauchemin and Draper penalties.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - The Ducks again outshoot Detroit, this time 8-6, but neither team puts anything on the board. The game does get physical in the second, including some pushing and shoving at the horn, setting up what promises to be an intriguing third.
20:00 - ANA and DET PENALTIES - Francois Beauchemin
, 2 min. roughing and Kris Draper, 2 min. slashing.
18:11 - Corey Perry and Chris Chelios collide and center ice and both are slow to get up. Chelios looks to have more trouble than Perry. Replays show Perry was upset at what he thought was a high stick seconds earlier from Hasek.
17:07 - ANA and DET PENALTIES - Shawn Thornton and Danny Markov, 2 min. each fighting. Thornton and Markov throw punches wildly after a Marchant backhand is covered by Hasek. Thornton gets the takedown.
16:07 - Andy McDonald sends Zetterberg head over heels with a hit near the red line.
13:04 - Zetterberg nearly scores from the crease on a one-timer, but Giguere knocks it away.
12:56 - ANA PENALTY - Travis Moen, 2 min. interference. Moen steps in the path of Pavel Datsyuk. First Anaheim penalty of the period. The Red Wings are 1-2 on the power play.
11:44 - Hasek makes another nice save, this time on a ripped Francois Beauchemin
slap shot from the point.
5:26 - DET PENALTY - Henrik Zetterberg, 2 min. tripping. The Ducks are 0-3 on the power play.
Todd Marchant is back on the ice after playing 3:30 in the first period. It's his first game since March 31.
1:02 - Robert Lang takes a similar shot to the one Zetterberg scored on in the first period, but this one Giguere saves and holds.
0:00 - We're underway in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Detroit has the edge in the first, despite being outshot by the Ducks, 10-5. The generate a couple of scoring chances (including the Getzlaf post on the power play) but put nothing on the board. It's 1-0 Red Wings.
18:21 - DET PENALTY - Mikael Samuelson, 2 min. cross checking. A loose puck in the crease causes Chris Kunitz and Andy McDonald to go toppling over Hasek. McDonald unintentionally bops Hasek in the head after the whistle and Hasek throws a shot at McDonald. A bit of a scuffle ensues, and Samuelson gets the cross checking minor.
17:26 - Holmstrom makes a nice backhand shot that Giguere bobbles around the chest area then covers on the ice.
16:25 - The crowd gets a little anxious as Hasek goes behind the net to play the puck. He's had some trouble back there.
There might be 30 or 40 people out of 20,000 in here who AREN'T wearing red.
14:36 - Holstrom takes a hard point blank shot on Giguere, but Jiggy takes it right in the gut and holds it.
10:34 - ANA and DET PENALTIES - Kent Huskins, 2 min. holding and Kris Draper, 2 min. interference. We're 4 on 4 for 2 minutes.
7:28 - The crowd erupts when both penalties are killed.
6:00 - Ryan Getzlaf
pings one off the crossbar on a slapper from the slot.
5:28 - DET PENALTY - Kris Draper, 2 min. holding. The Ducks will get a 5 on 3 for 1:34. The crowd does not seem to think that was the right call.
5:03 - DET PENALTY - Johan Franzen, 2 min. holding. First power play of the series for the Ducks. They are 9 for 55 with a man advantage in the playoffs, fifth in the league.
3:44 - DETROIT GOAL (POWER PLAY) - HENRIK ZETTERBERG - Before the penalty on the Ducks can even be announced, Zetterberg takes a wrist shot from deep in the corner that ricochets off a sliding Francois Beauchemin
and slips between Giguere's legs. It's Zetterberg's fifth of the postseason. Assists go to Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom.
3:36 - ANA PENALTY - Joe DiPenta, 2 min. holding. First power play of the series for the Red Wings. The stadium DJ plays the oldie "Hold Me" to honor the penalty. Detroit is 10 for 63 in the playoffs, sixth in the league.
0:00 - And we're off and running in Game 1. Does it get any better than this?
Starting Goaltenders: ANA J.S. Giguere; DET Dominik Hasek
Starting Skaters: ANA Teemu Selanne
, Chris Kunitz, Andy McDonald, Sean O'Donnell, Chris Pronger; DET Danny Markov, Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Homstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg
Scratches: ANA Ric Jackman, Mark Hartigan, Sebastien Caron, George Parros
, Drew Miller, Aaron Rome, Ryan Shannon, Joe Motzko; DET James Howard, Mathieu Schneider, Jiri Hudler, Derek Meech, Niklas Kronvall
4:30 p.m. (PDT) at Joe Louis Arena (Detroit, Mich.)
TV: Versus Radio: AM 830
Versus Channel Locations
After waiting eight days since their clinching Game 5 victory over Vancouver, the Ducks finally kick off the Western Conference Finals tonight against the Detroit Red Wings. But unlike their first two series (both won in five games), the Ducks open this series on the road, specifically in the hallowed confines of Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings have won three Stanley Cup titles since moving into the 28-year-old building. But the last time the Ducks were here in the postseason, they took two games on their way to a sweep of Detroit in the 2003 conference finals. This regular season the Wings won both games here, with the Ducks taking two at Honda Center.
The Ducks are a dismal 2-21-3 in their regular season history at The Joe.
"Obviously it's a great building to play, a lot of history," said Teemu Selanne on Thursday. "But, you know, it's just like another game. Doesn't matter really where you play."
The Ducks are just happy to be playing at all after waiting more than a week for this series to start. They've been in Detroit since Wednesday evening.
"We've changed up a few things, we've tried to get more one?on?one competition?type drills to get our players prepared for the drop of the puck [tonight]," said head coach Randy Carlyle.
This series between the West's first- and second-seeded teams is already notable for being a battle of elite defenseman, featuring all three Norris Trophy finalists - Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger along with Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom. Detroit also has 45-year-old wonder Chris Chelios, who has won three Norris Trophies and is playing in his NHL-record 22nd postseason.
All four defensemen get help from top-notch goaltenders who have been at their best in this postseason. The Ducks' J.S. Giguere is leading all playoff goalies with a 1.28 goals against average and a .952 save percentage. Giguere carried the Ducks in eliminating Detroit in 2003 and advancing to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Detroit's 42-year-old Dominik Hasek is giving up 1.5 goals a game in the playoffs and he shut out the San Jose Sharks in the series-clinching win Monday. Hasek's 1.97 goals-against average ranks second among goalies with at least 100 playoff games.
Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock fondly remembers the Ducks' '03 run, having coached the team that season. He became Detroit's head man prior to the '05'-'06 campaign when the Red Wings gave him a better offer.
Said Anaheim general manager Brian Burke: "I felt given what Mike Babcock had accomplished in Anaheim, he deserved another year, another chance, so I offered him a one-year deal. He was able to get a longer-term deal here (in Detroit).
"It worked out perfectly. It was the right situation for him, and I got the coach I really wanted."
That, of course, was Carlyle, who has led the Ducks to the conference finals in each of his two years. They won a franchise-record 48 games and their first Pacific Division title this season.
Carlyle and the rest of the Ducks would like to take it further this postseason, and step 1 in that quest starts tonight.
"Any time that you have the veteran core that they have, the leadership core that they have, you know you're going to be in a competitive battle," Carlyle said. "That's going to be at the forefront. For us to be successful, we have to play our style of game. It will be an interesting match?up."
- Associated Press contributed to this report