The Anaheim Ducks extended their phenomenal run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 4-1 win in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final over the Chicago Blackhawks. Anaheim is now 9-1 in ten playoff games this season, and lead the series 1-0.
After a few fantastic saves by Frederik Andersen, the Ducks opened the scoring midway through the first period when Hampus Lindholm fired a slapshot past Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford. It was just Lindholm's second goal of the postseason.
Chicago pushed back, outshooting the Ducks 25-15 in the first two periods, but Andersen answered every scoring chance. A turnover and missed coverage by Blackhawks defenseman David Rundblad led to a slapshot goal by Kyle Palmieri to give Anaheim a 2-0 lead in the second period.
The Blackhawks finally got one of their own late in the second. Anaheim defenseman Francois Beauchemin turned over the puck in the defensive zone, leading to an unassisted goal by Blackhawks center Brad Richards with 40 seconds left in the period. But the Ducks continued to stifle Chicago's scoring chances while ramping up the frequency of their own. That eventually led to Nate Thompson's score late in the third period, giving the Ducks a 3-1 lead. Jakob Silfverberg added a last-minute empty net goal, and Anaheim finished off a 4-1 win in Game 1.
3 things we learned
1. Andersen excellent again
The Ducks goalie continued his fine playoffs with a 32-save outing in Game 1. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville shouldn't have much to complain about his team's performance; they racked up the scoring chances, but Andersen just shut most of them down.
2. More like David Rundbad, right? (Sorry.)
David Rundblad made his playoffs debut on the Blackhawks' third defense pairing in Game 1, and it couldn't have played out much worse than it did. Rundblad screened his own goalie on Anaheim's first goal, and then turned over the puck and allowed Palmieri to walk right in and score the Ducks' second. The Minnesota Wild might not have attacked Chicago's weaker defensemen, but Anaheim sure will.
3. Anaheim tried to beat Chicago with physicality
And for the most part, the tactic worked. The Ducks registered 44 hits and made sure to finish every check they threw the Blackhawks' way. They were especially physical in open ice, hampering the Blackhawks' ability to make clean zone entries or get momentum through the neutral zone. Chicago couldn't establish a consistent rhythm in transition, and it showed.