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Ducks believed they could defeat Blackhawks, and they show it with 4-1 win

Game 1 victory over Chicago answers other questions about the Ducks' experience, depth, and defense

The Ducks spent Sunday afternoon proving they could beat the Chicago Blackhawks.

By winning, 4-1, in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals at Honda Center, they also took on the other most pressing questions about their capability of claiming hockey's ultimate prize.

How would second-year goalie Frederik Andersen stand up to the pressure of a potent, experienced team with championship pedigree?

Andersen saved 32 of 33 shots, aggressively poking a puck away from high-scoring Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane as part of a 16-save first period, and then pouncing on the object in a third-period scrum to seal the outcome.

Was there enough scoring depth to win games if Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler couldn't score?

Center Nate Thompson's third line accounted for two goals and two assists.

"That was the difference," Kesler said of Thompson's line. "They were on, played exceptional. That's why we won the game."

What about that young defense?

Not only did Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm, 21, help keep the Blackhawks to one goal in stopping their six-game winning streak, he scored the game's opening goal and now ranks second in NHL playoff scoring among blue-liners.

"Everyone in this locker room knows we can beat this team, and it's a good feeling that we showed this," Andersen said after the Ducks improved to 6-0 at home in the playoffs by toppling a team that's won two of the past five Stanley Cups.

"A lot of poise in net," Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri said of Andersen. "He's not a guy who's diving all over the place, but when he did have to dive all over the place, especially on that Kane save, it was huge for us."

Anaheim won the marquee battle, as second-line center Ryan Kesler limited Chicago's first-line center Jonathan Toews to just one shot on goal with a minus-two rating.

And they dominated the secondary showdowns.

In addition to assisting Palmieri on his first goal of the postseason in the second period, Thompson rebounded a shot past Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford for a 3-1 lead more than midway through the third period.

"Sometimes, the top guys match out a little bit," said forward Andrew Cogliano. "It's a cliche that you need depth guys to win in the playoffs, but you need them to play strong defensively, chipping in when they get the opportunity. Tonight was a perfect example of those guys getting a chance and putting it in."

The Ducks, who've outscored playoff foes, 18-3, in the third period, iced the victory by affirming their depth — forward Jakob Silfverberg scoring into an empty net.

With that and his assist of Lindholm's opening goal, Silfverberg now ranks tied for second in league playoff scoring (13 points) and second in assists (nine).

After giving up a late second-period goal, Anaheim impressively killed off two Chicago power plays during a 4:28 stretch early in the third period.

And the Ducks made Chicago pay for the injury absence of defenseman Michal Rozsival (fractured ankle) by scoring two goals with his replacement, David Rundblad, on the ice.

Chicago's top defenseman Duncan Keith was forced to play 28:25 and languished through his worst game of the postseason — a minus-three rating.

"Like the rest of us, we'll try to keep on improving from today," Keith said, with Game 2 Tuesday night at Honda Center.

Given Sunday's events, that's a day the Ducks look forward to.

"When we gave up that goal at the end of the second period, a lot of people might look at that as a huge momentum shifter, but we came back into this room very confident and came out and did the job," Palmieri said.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimespugmire

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