ANAHEIM – Who else but Teemu Selanne could set the tone for this series?
The face of the Anaheim Ducks is already enemy No. 1 in the minds of Detroit Red Wings fans for his overtime winner in Game 5 of the 2007 Western Conference Finals, and he added another dagger to this fiery rivalry Tuesday night.
Selanne snapped a shot from the left hash mark that knuckled past Jimmy Howard's shoulder 1:29 into the third period to break a tie as Anaheim beat Detroit 3-1 on Tuesday night to take Game 1 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series.
Selanne's 42nd career playoff goal, a power-play tally set up by Jakub Kindl's delay-of-game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass, translated to the Ducks' first postseason victory since 2011.
Selanne, 42, said it never gets, well, old.
"When you have a passion for scoring goals, it doesn't matter who old you are," said Selanne, who also got his 11th career playoff game-winning goal. "Maybe the celebrations go down a little bit, but inside it's the same feeling."
Francois Beauchemin added a length-of-the-ice empty net goal.
Game 2 is scheduled for Thursday at Honda Center.
Eleven of Hiller's saves came in the final 20 minutes. It was a strong performance after there was slight doubt as to whether he would get the start over Viktor Fasth. Hiller was previously 3-7-1 against Detroit.
"It's definitely nice," Hiller said. "It's been a long time since I played the last playoff game. I was real excited to come to the rink today. I wanted to play as well as possible. It's definitely nice to start with a win. It gives you, definitely, good feeling. But at the same time, one win doesn't do a whole lot. The whole team has to come with the same attitude the next game and we have to keep playing the same way."
Detroit ultimately could not break through Anaheim's defense. It put 12 shots on goal through 45 minutes before a final push. Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau used the Daniel Winnik-Saku Koivu-Andrew Cogliano line and Beauchemin-Cam Fowler defensive pairing against Pavel Datsyuk's line, which generated four shots total in the first two periods.
Before the series, Detroit coach Mike Babcock placed significance on playing well into the playoffs – the Red Wings won four in a row to close the regular season. But Babcock said his forwards got forced to the outside.
"My biggest concern is that we looked exactly as we did in the first 20 or 25 games of the season, where we couldn't move the puck on the back [end]," Babcock said. "We weren't efficient. We weren't a five-man unit. We didn't look organized in that way. We weren't relentless in the offensive zone because we came with speed. When you spend so much time in your own zone, you spend much time in the offensive zone."
The game settled into a special teams trade-off in the second as both sides had two power-play chances. Howard was quite active with 10 saves in the period and finished with 24. But Detroit didn't have its cohesiveness.
"We didn't get it through the neutral zone well enough, and they're a good transition team," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "There's no doubt about that. They're a really good team over there so we have to do a better job of taking care of the puck, whether it's in our own zone, making the first tape-to-tape pass – a lot times you make the first tape-to-tape pass – now we come with speed instead of creating a hassle for yourself."
Detroit withstood early pressure and got a 1-1 tie into the first intermission after Ryan Getzlaf and Winnik took overlapping tripping and hooking penalties, respectively. Kindl's shot from the left side hit Daniel Cleary and found the net as Getzlaf was skating into the play from the box.
The game was prefaced with a video montage to get the home crowd rocking, and the Ducks obliged by grabbing a 1-0 lead on a great play by Nick Bonino. The second-line center won a faceoff from Datsyuk, went to the slot and tipped in Fowler's point shot at 10:24 with Jordin Tootoo serving a cross checking penalty.
Bonino missed six weeks with a lower body injury and did not return until April 21. It was his first goal since Feb.27 and first career playoff goal.
"He's so smart and so strong with the puck and he makes good plays," Selanne said of Bonino. "It's so much easier. It's funny, the time when I started going down, too, a little bit in producing, that was the time when he got hurt. I'm so happy to see him back because he can make a big difference."
Beauchemin moved past Scott Niedermayer to become the franchise leader in playoff goals by a Ducks defenseman.
|PPG - Nick Bonino (1) ASST: Cam Fowler (1)|
1 - 0 ANA
|PPG - Daniel Cleary (1) ASST: Jakub Kindl (1), Patrick Eaves (1)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Teemu Selanne (1) ASST: Ben Lovejoy (1), Matt Beleskey (1)|
2 - 1 ANA
|EN - Francois Beauchemin (1) ASST: Ryan Getzlaf (1), Daniel Winnik (1)|
3 - 1 ANA
|Jordin Tootoo Cross checking against Andrew Cogliano|
|Ryan Getzlaf Tripping against Justin Abdelkader|
|Daniel Winnik Hooking against Pavel Datsyuk|
|Nick Bonino Holding against Gustav Nyquist|
|Joakim Andersson Interference against Teemu Selanne|
|Corey Perry Interference on goalkeeper against Jimmy Howard|
|Jakub Kindl Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Valtteri Filppula Hooking against David Steckel|