ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Teemu Selanne scored the tiebreaking power-play goal early in the third period, Jonas Hiller made 21 saves, and the Anaheim Ducks returned to the postseason with a 3-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night.
Nick Bonino also scored a power-play goal, and Francois Beauchemin added an empty-netter for the second-seeded Ducks. They hung on in the final minutes of the opener in just their second playoff series in four years.
The 42-year-old Selanne came up with yet another huge goal for the Pacific Division champions, putting a perfectly placed one-timer over Jimmy Howard’s shoulder while gliding backward.
Howard stopped 24 shots and Daniel Cleary scored on a power play for the Red Wings in their 22nd consecutive postseason appearance.
Game 2 is Thursday at Honda Center.
Captain Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry led a strong offensive effort by the Pacific Division champions, who finished the regular season with the best winning percentage in franchise history. Anaheim also excelled on the power play, little surprise for the NHL’s fourth-ranked unit in the regular season.
Coach Bruce Boudreau also looked smart for choosing Hiller over first-year co-starter Viktor Fasth for the opener. Both goalies won 15 games in the regular season, but Boudreau went with his Swiss veteran, who came up with a handful of spectacular saves.
Anaheim missed two of the previous three postseasons, and Honda Center was packed well before the opening faceoff with hungry fans waving orange glow sticks and whipping towels above their heads. The Ducks have won just one postseason round since winning their only Stanley Cup in 2007, and Anaheim is eager for another lengthy run after the current team finally actualized its considerable talent.
The Ducks have been transformed ever since Boudreau took over in the final weeks of 2011, returning to respectability last season before roaring to a 22-3-4 start to this lockout-shortened campaign. Anaheim has been coasting steadily toward the playoffs for several weeks, finishing with the NHL’s third-best record and the second division title in franchise history.
Detroit had to scramble down the stretch just to extend its record postseason streak, only clinching a spot in the final game after four straight victories. The Red Wings also had good recent results in Anaheim, where they won consecutive games in late March to snap the Ducks’ 13-game home winning streak.
The Ducks went ahead midway through the first period when Bonino scored 3 seconds into a power play, tipping Cam Fowler’s point shot past Howard for his first career playoff goal.
Detroit evened it later in the period with a power-play goal just 4 seconds after a two-man advantage expired, with Cleary banging home his 21st career playoff goal.
After a well-played but scoreless second period, Selanne scored with a nifty wrist shot from the left circle. Howard appeared to have a decent chance to stop it, but the Finnish Flash put home his 42nd career playoff goal.
Detroit pressed in the final minutes, but Beauchemin wrapped it up with an exceptional empty-net goal, shooting the puck from just outside Anaheim’s goal crease.