A win is a win and this one was closer than the Ducks would have liked.
The 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars in game one of the opening round of the NHL playoffs was narrow, but as usual, Anaheim found a way to hold on and win the game.
“A little adversity isn’t going to hurt us,” said Corey Perry. “We’ve got to learn how to play with the lead, especially down to the wire. All those things are going to help us.”
Things started off well for Anaheim, who took a 4-0 lead by the time the game was halfway done. That included two power play goals. Yes, goals, plural. The first time they had more than one in a game since January 15.
Kyle Palmieri scored within the first two minutes of the puck drop and was followed by Ryan Getzlaf midway through the first. Mathieu Perreault got the first power play goal at 19:30 and Matt Beleskey doubled the specialty team goals at 9:04 of the second period.
And then the Ducks got into trouble. A high sticking penalty from former Star, Stephane Robidas, followed by a bench minor for too many men on the ice meant that Dallas had a 5 on 3 opportunity.
Agree with the calls or not, that was the way things unfolded and Dallas did exactly what they are supposed to do with a two man advantage. They scored. Jamie Benn scored at 16:38 and 1:31 later, Colton Sceviour cut the Ducks lead in half, just as the second penalty was expiring.
Tyler Seguin’s tally at 13:53 of the third period meant that the Ducks would need to hang on if they wanted to win the game.
Frederik Andersen, who got the nod in net over Jonas Hiller, who was backing things up on the bench, made 32 saves. That was one more than Kari Lehtonen at the other end and it was the difference maker.
No one in the sell out sea of orange at the Honda Center was going to leave early. Six minutes of “oh my goodness, they aren’t going to screw this up, are they?”
“When a team scores two goals late, they get the momentum and the belief they can win,” said coach Bruce Boudreau. “The other team is playing more of a defensive role trying to hang on. Then, you usually end up with a score like it was tonight, even though I thought halfway through the game we were in control of the situation.”
Did the Ducks let up a little? Probably. Did Dallas continue pressing? Absolutely. Did Dallas get a little life and encouragement? Possibly, but the win was still in the Ducks column.
“Even though you’re up 4-0, you have to play 60 minutes,” said Andersen.
“But I’m happy about the win.”
Ducks fans are, too. They will be even happier if the Ducks learn from their mistakes and gear up for the full 60 minutes plus. There is still a lot of hockey left to be played in this series.
Game 2 is Friday night at Honda Center.
In other notes: Beleskey left the game in the third period with a lower body injury after having his goal scored with a puck deflecting off his right leg pad.
Getzlaf also finished up the game in the locker room after blocking a shot with his mouth at 19:43 of the third period. He received a lot of stitches to close the cut, but x-rays were negative and Getzlaf is expected to play tomorrow night. A couple inches higher, without a visor on, and that puck could have done much more serious and costly damage.