ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Hampus Lindholm, Nate Thompson and Jakob Silfverberg each had a goal and an assist, and the Anaheim Ducks opened the Western Conference finals with a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.
Frederik Andersen made 32 saves and Kyle Palmieri also scored for the Ducks. They opened their first conference finals in eight years with a strong all-around performance while improving to 9-1 in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Both teams’ top offensive stars were shut down in the opener, but the Ducks’ supporting cast contributed timely scoring, capped by Thompson’s goal with 7:55 to play and Silfverberg’s empty-net goal with 1:18 left.
Brad Richards scored late in the second period and Corey Crawford stopped 23 shots for Chicago, which hadn’t lost since April 23.
Game 2 is Tuesday night in Anaheim.
Andersen was stellar under a heavy barrage of high-quality shots from the Blackhawks, who had won five straight postseason games heading into their third straight conference finals.
The Ducks’ tall Danish goalie made a handful of spectacular saves in the third when Chicago pressed after Thompson made it 3-1 in a sequence created by speedy Andrew Cogliano.
These powerhouse teams both entered the series with prolonged rolls and plenty of rest. The Blackhawks never trailed in their second-round series sweep of Minnesota while reaching their third straight conference finals, while Anaheim steamrolled through the Pacific Division bracket with just one overtime defeat.
The Blackhawks had 10 days off after the second round, while the Ducks had a full week off after disposing of Calgary in five games. Anaheim’s physical approach also contrasts nicely with Chicago’s speed-based game, and both teams played to their strengths in the opener.
Two well-rested rosters played with huge energy and pace from the start, and they matched their strengths from the opening minutes, with Ducks center Ryan Kesler chasing Chicago captain Jonathan Toews in a continuation of their long-running rivalry.
Anaheim scored midway through the first period when Silfverberg made a sharp pass to Lindholm, and the Swedish defenseman put a big shot through traffic for his second goal of the postseason.
Chicago controlled long stretches of early play with its speed, but Andersen made 16 saves — none prettier than his diving stick deflection when Patrick Kane had a look at an open net.
Palmieri made it 2-0 early in the second with his first goal of the postseason, converting a pass from Nate Thompson and sliding through the crease on his back in celebration. Rundblad and Johnny Oduya both failed to clear the puck before the decisive sequence.
Richards finally broke through in the final minute of the second, forcing a turnover by Francois Beauchemin and putting a fierce shot under Andersen’s arm for his second postseason goal.
Honda Center employees worked all night to prepare the ice for the unusually early start time. Kanye West headlined a show in the building Saturday night, and arena staffers finished preparing the ice three hours before warmups.
NOTES: Rookie Jiri Sekac made his playoff debut for the Ducks, skating on their fourth line. The speedy, skillful Czech wing replaced physical wing Tim Jackman to match up with the Blackhawks’ strengths. … Bryan Bickell went to the Blackhawks’ dressing room in the second period after a collision with Kesler, but returned several minutes later. … Brent Seabrook played in his 100th postseason game. Chicago had eight players on the ice with at least 100 games of playoff experience, while Anaheim has none.
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