The Ducks uncorked the nearly yearlong energy that had been bottled up in their bid to atone for last year’s first-round playoff elimination.
And when they needed one last surge to stave off a furious Dallas Stars rally Wednesday at Honda Center, they delivered again, winning, 4-3, in Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.
“We got up 4-0, relaxed, and that team showed us we can’t do that,” Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. “Great lesson — made even better because we still won.”
Dallas goals leader Tyler Seguin beat Ducks rookie goalie Frederik Andersen with 6 minutes 7 seconds remaining in the third period to trim the deficit to a goal.
The Ducks blocked shots, including one that smacked star center Ryan Getzlaf in the face and required numerous stitches (the team said it would know more about his situation after treatment), and forward Daniel Winnik played as if possessed to push the puck out of the Ducks’ zone twice in the final minute after eighth-seeded Dallas emptied its net.
The top-seeded Ducks surged to a 3-0 lead after the first period on goals by Kyle Palmieri, Getzlaf and Mathieu Perreault.
Palmieri, who scored three times in last year’s first-round upset loss to the Detroit Red Wings, was on the board just 1:53 into the first after taking a perfectly placed pass from center Nick Bonino, who sailed the puck over sliding Dallas defenseman Aaron Rome.
“Everyone was excited — Game 1 — we wanted to get off to a good start, and I don’t know that you could’ve scripted it any better,” Palmieri said.
Dallas outshot Anaheim 14-10 in the first, but was frustrated by the Ducks’ continued attention to defense, which shined in their 4-0 end to the regular season. Winnik and Andrew Cogliano helped kill three penalties.
Andersen showed no unsteadiness early in his playoff debut, stopping both of Dallas’ scoring leaders, Jamie Benn and Seguin, at close range to set the tone.
Meanwhile, Ducks forward Matt Beleskey sent a shot that struck Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen on the top of the helmet, the puck bouncing to Getzlaf, who flipped it in for a 2-0 lead.
Then, after more Anaheim pressure led Dallas defenseman Sergei Gonchar to commit a hooking penalty, center Perreault beat Lehtonen to the goalie’s left off a pass from Patrick Maroon with 1:30 left in the period.
A second Ducks power-play goal — the first time they’d done that since Jan. 15 — came nearly midway into the second when defenseman Francois Beauchemin blasted a blue-line shot that deflected off Beleskey’s right leg and past Lehtonen for a 4-0 bulge.
Beleskey later had to leave the game for good with a lower body injury.
Andersen stopped the first 23 shots his way, but defenseman Stephane Robidas was called for high sticking and Anaheim was whistled for too many men on the ice 1:05 later to give Dallas a two-man advantage.
The Stars cashed both in.
First, Benn was left wide open to Andersen’s left and followed a shot by center Colton Sceviour to make it 4-1. Sceviour, in his first playoff game, then slipped a shot under Andersen to make it 4-2 with 1:51 left in the second.
“I don’t even know that you can say we sat back,” Palmieri said.
“We got into a little penalty trouble. That kind of adversity is going to hit you once in a while. We responded well, won, and that’s all that matters.”
Part of the response came when Benn rushed in for a point-blank shot that Andersen stopped.
Playing over Jonas Hiller, the Ducks’ primary starter during the regular season who slumped late, Andersen finished with 32 saves.
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