The Ducks remained unbeaten at home in the playoffs Sunday, going toe-to-toe with the playoff heavyweight Chicago Blackhawks and claiming a 4-1 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals at Honda Center.
Nate Thompson’s third-period goal gave Anaheim a comfortable lead after the Blackhawks pulled within a goal late in the second.
Jakob Silfverberg added an empty net goal with 1:18 left for the final margin and the Ducks are now 6-0 at home with Game 2 Tuesday in Anaheim.
Anaheim goalie Frederik Andersen contributed a stout performance in net, recording 32 saves, including some memorable stops that defused the visitors’ potent offense.
The Ducks led 2-1 after two periods and had blanked the Blackhawks until the final minute of the period.
Then, Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin couldn’t get a pass in the defensive zone past Chicago center Brad Richards, who intercepted the attempt near the boards and swarmed with the puck toward Andersen, scoring low to the goalie’s right with 39.6 seconds remaining.
Before that, Andersen and the Ducks’ defense had been sharp.
Ducks defenseman Simon Despres brilliantly swiped away a puck from high-scoring forward Patrick Kane’s stick as he bore down on Andersen in the second, and Clayton Stoner contributed a team-best six hits through two periods.
Anaheim’s lead was 2-0 for most of the second after forward Kyle Palmieri scored his first playoff goal 4:17 into the period.
Palmieri bounced off a hit and, in a segment set up by a backhanded shot by Stoner and some Chicago defensive miscues, accepted a pass from fourth-line center Thompson, firing the puck over Crawford’s left shoulder.
Thompson played nearly as much as second-line center Ryan Kesler through two periods and was briefly alongside first-line right wing Corey Perry.
The Ducks seized a 1-0 lead on a goal by defenseman Hampus Lindholm 8:48 into the game.
Lindholm took a pass from forward Jakob Silfverberg – his ninth playoff assist -- and blasted it high to the right of Crawford.
Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg scores empty-net goal to 4-1 lead late in the third period.
The Ducks gathered the puck on their end, and Silfverberg's shot hit the post. He kept at it, and bumped the puck in the net off his leg with 1:18 left.
Blackhawks pull goalie Corey Crawford with 2:23 left to get the extra attacker.
Nate Thompson scores to give the Ducks a 3-1 lead at 12:05 of the third period.
Thompson followed a shot from Andrew Cogliano that Chicago goalie Corey Crawford blocked. After Kyle Palmieri surged in but whiffed on his shot, Thompson converted.
Frederik Andersen then denied heavy pressure from Marcus Kruger (with a pad save) and Andrew Desjardins, covering the puck as the remaining parties argue and push.
Off a Nate Thompson-Kyle Palmieri pass, Andrew Cogliano was stopped by Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford.
The Ducks try to stay down in Chicago’s end as time has shrunk to 9:18 remaining.
Cogliano shot between Crawford’s legs and nearly scores, but the puck stopped right at the front of the goal line.
Jakob Silfverberg killed off some of the Ryan Kesler penalty by shuffling the puck down ice, and Andrew Cogliano followed with a similar act.
And a second penalty in the third has been killed.
There’s 11:47 left in regulation.
The Ducks took the first three shots of the third, but defenseman Simon Despres picked up a holding penalty 3:04 in.
Ryan Getzlaf rocked Marian Hossa with a hit during the kill, Anaheim got a shot off, and then Frederik Andersen made a big shoulder save on a Brad Richards shot, then saved a Brandon Saad rebound try.
Teams are back to full strength, with 14:55 left in the third.
But with 14:28 left, Ryan Kesler has been called for hooking, so it's another power play for the visitors.
The third period is underway at Honda Center.
That’s usually good news for the Ducks, who’ve outscored the opposition by a 16-3 margin in the third.
But Chicago enters with some momentum after scoring with 39.6 seconds left in the second period when Brad Richards took away a pass from Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin and scored, cutting Anaheim's lead to 2-1.
Crawford has withstood some early pressure from Anaheim in the third.
Chicago Blackhawks center Brad Richards knocked down a pass from Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin, collected the puck and swarmed in to score to Frederik Andersen’s right with 39.6 seconds left in the second.
The Ducks lead 2-1 over the Blackhawks after two periods. Chicago has out-shot the Ducks, 25-15.
A move by Jakob Silfverberg toward the net drew a tripping penalty from Chicago’s Niklas Hjalmarsson at 12:23 of the second.
The Ducks have converted for a league-best 31 percent on power plays in the postseason.
This opportunity went flat, with Chicago’s Brandon Saad getting a short-handed shot while Anaheim managed just two easy to see tries at Crawford.
Corey Crawford stopped a good rush led by Ryan Kesler with 4:30 left.
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau has shrunk playing time for Ryan Getzlaf to just more than five minutes this period, with Nate Thompson playing even alongside Corey Perry at times.
The Ducks have blocked three consecutive Chicago shots. There’s 2:33 left in the second.
Kyle Palmieri’s goal came on the Ducks' 10th shot.
A solid scoring chance by Corey Perry ends with a shot going wide, but the Ducks have been more effective on the offensive zone this period, and are holding onto a lead that would look massive given their third-period playoff success. They’ve outscored foes by a combined, 16-3, in the third.
Palmieri missed out on another chance when his shot is blocked by Chicago defenseman David Rundblad.
Anaheim forward Kyle Palmieri bounced off his own hit and fired a shot past goalie Corey Crawford for a 2-0 lead. It’s Palmieri’s first playoff goal. The assist came from fourth-line center Nate Thompson.
Earlier in the period, Ducks defenseman Simon Despres swiped away a puck from Patrick Kane’s stick as he bore down on Frederik Andersen.
Clayton Stoner contributed his team-best fourth hit for the Ducks on Vermette, and the Ducks increased their pressure on Crawford with shots by Sekac and Andrew Cogliano.
When Frederik Andersen gloves a Brad Richards shot with 3:24 left in the first, it makes for his 15th save while the Ducks have put five shots on goal.
Threats by Ducks defenseman Simon Despres and forwards Patrick Maroon and Corey Perry are stopped by Corey Crawford in the final minute.
At the end of the first, the Ducks lead, 1-0, while Chicago has out-shot the hosts, 16-7.
During a television break, Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau told NBC the fact that his team has been off since May 10 and Chicago rested since May 7 has created exceptional speed in this game.
Chicago increases its pressure with a Jonathan Toews crossing pass to Brandon Saad. No goal, but the Blackhawks lead in shots on goal, 10-3.
From behind the Chicago net, a pass from Ducks forward Patrick Maroon to Corey Perry gets stopped by Corey Crawford with 6:20 left in the period.
Andersen then denies a shot by Marcus Kruger, his 11th save.
The Ducks lead, 1-0, on a goal by defenseman Hampus Lindholm, 8:48 into the game.
Lindholm took a pass from forward Jakob Silfverberg (ninth playoff assist) and blasted it high to the right of Chicago goalie Corey Crawford.
Matt Beleskey had the secondary assist. It's Lindhom's second playoff goal.
The goalies exchanged good saves. First, Frederik Andersen denied Patrick Sharp’s shot and Antoine Vermette’s follow. Corey Crawford then stopped a wrister from Matt Beleskey, chasing a six-game goal streak.
In the game’s fifth minute, Chicago forward Patrick Kane had a clear look at the net off a Ryan Getzlaf turnover, but as defenseman Simon Despres slid to the net to block his shot, Andersen got a sliver of his stick on Kane’s shot, forcing it over the net.
The puck has dropped at Honda Center for Game 1 of the Ducks and Blackhawks’ Western Conference final.
Anaheim Coach Bruce Boudreau assigned center Ryan Kesler’s second line to the Blackhawks’ first line, centered by Jonathan Toews -- a renewal of other postseason battles when Kesler was in Vancouver.
Ducks right wing Corey Perry picked up a slashing penalty 1 minute and 18 seconds into the game, but the Ducks nearly scored short-handed, with Jakob Silfverberg slicing a Kesler rebound off the post left of Chicago goalie Corey Crawford.
Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen helped kill the penalty by stopping Brandon Saad up close.
From the look of the Ducks' warmup rushes, the lines will be Patrick Maroon-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry, Matt Beleskey-Ryan Kesler-Jakob Silfverberg, Jiri Sekac-Rickard Rakell-Emerson Etem, Andrew Cogliano-Nate Thompson-Kyle Palmieri.
Perry leads the NHL in playoff points (15).
The Kesler line has combined for 12 goals and 25 points.
Sekac will play in his first playoff game, providing improved speed and scoring ability, while Rakell rallied from an illness on Saturday to gain the start.
The first-ever playoff showdown between top-seeded Anaheim and a Chicago team appearing in its third consecutive conference final is a matchup packed with major talent, starting with opposing first-line centers Ryan Getzlaf of the Ducks and Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks.
Ducks right wing Corey Perry leads the NHL in playoff points, followed by Chicago forward Patrick Kane, whose team has won two of the past five Stanley Cups.
Anaheim blitzed through Winnipeg and Calgary, needing just nine games to close out both best-of-seven series, and Chicago swept Minnesota in the second round.
Each team is well rested, with the Blackhawks off since May 7.
Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen and his defensemen will confront deep opposing lines, and thus far they’ve been up to the challenge, limiting the opposition to just 239 shots on goal in nine games.
Anaheim will send its league-leading offense (3.89 goals per game) against a Blackhawks' unit that has allowed an average of 36.3 shots at its goalies.
This is Anaheim’s first Western Conference final game since 2007, when the Ducks won the Stanley Cup. At home in the postseason, the Ducks are 5-0.
The Times will have continued Game 1 updates following scoring plays and other highlights, and after each period.