Frederik Andersen's stick save sets the pace for Ducks to beat Chicago

Frederik Andersen's stick save sets the pace for Ducks to beat Chicago
Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen blocks the puck during a Blackhawks power play in the third period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Western Conference Finals at the Honda Center on Sunday. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

There was the glove in Game 4 in the second period against the Calgary Flames.

This time, it was the stick in the first period in the opening game of the Western Conference finals between the Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks.

The owner of the stick and glove — Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen — has been using all tools at his disposal to keep the puck out of the net. But his stick save on Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane in what was then a scoreless game could be considered Andersen's save of the playoffs.

It had the crowd at Honda Center buzzing, as Andersen also provided a calming effect on a jittery-looking group of teammates a little more than five minutes into the game. The Ducks scored at 8:48 of the first period and went on to defeat Chicago, 4-1, in Game 1 on Sunday afternoon.

You usually hit the automatic button when Kane has the puck, presented with that much net. The pure goal-scorer can do wondrous things in even tighter situations and has seven goals and 13 points in 11 playoff games.

"I thought I did everything right on the play," said Kane, the league's second-leading scorer in the playoffs behind the Ducks' Corey Perry. "He just had his stick there. If I would have put it along the ice, I would have had a better chance of scoring there.

"It would have been nice to get that chance and bury it to give us the lead."

Said Ducks center Nate Thompson: "When he makes big saves like that, guys on the bench calm down and we rebound. It helps our team in the long run."


Fairly soon, an Anaheim player is bound to say: Freddie was being Freddie.

Naturally, Andersen was his usual matter-of-fact self about the save and the moment.

"He picked up a loose puck there," said Andersen. "I didn't really see how much time he had at the beginning. I played aggressive, but he was patient, tried to get me moving laterally.

"I knew I had to try to throw my stick over and take as much of the net as I could. Luckily he hit the stick."

The Ducks were scrambling at the start. Andersen has been able to keep them in a position to win even when they haven't been at their best. His glove save on Flames rookie Johnny Gaudreau in Game 4 prevented Calgary from taking a two-goal lead, and the Ducks rallied to win that night in the second round.

On Sunday, the Ducks were getting back up to speed after an extended layoff — as were the Blackhawks — but Andersen kept them in it long enough to regain their composure.

"Exactly. In the first period, he was huge for us," Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm said. "He's been our key all season. He's just been great for us. I think he kept us in this game today. We have a lot more to give. I don't think this was even close to our best game this year."

Andersen faced 33 shots, and the only goal he allowed — to the Blackhawks' Brad Richards — came off after a turnover by Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin.

In Game 1s, the Ducks have outscored their opponents by a combined, 14-4, and 10-2 in the last two rounds.

This was Andersen's first appearance in the conference finals and, in some quarters, he was considered a question mark before the playoffs started.

"I don't know why," said Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano. "There's no question mark with us and the guys that are in the room. There's always going to be questions about guys that are young and inexperienced, but he's got a great demeanor and he's really focused for a guy that really, this is kind of his first taste of some really big games.

"He's as calm as can be. He's big and he controls the puck. I think he just needs to keep playing like he's doing. I don't think he needs to put too much pressure on himself."


Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau made two lineup adjustments, both involving his fourth line, putting wingers Emerson Etem and Jiri Sekac with center Rickard Rakell. Etem was scratched the last two games of the Calgary series, and this was Sekac's first playoff appearance.

In fact, he had been out of the lineup more than a month. Sekac played nine minutes and had three hits against Chicago.

"We're using all 15 forwards," Boudreau said. "Guys that have come in have done a real admirable job. Jiri hasn't played in a month. He came in and he looked like he didn't miss a beat, but that's because he's been practicing very hard.

"We have been practicing very hard. To me, it's like he's not out of step because of the pace of the practices, they've been that good."

Twitter: @reallisa