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Andersen, Ducks defeat Blackhawks in Game 1

by Corey Masisak /

ANAHEIM -- The Anaheim Ducks are unbeaten in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs when scoring first, and they looked quite comfortable playing from ahead in a 4-1 victory Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final.

After taking a two-goal lead then yielding a last-minute goal in the second period, the Ducks protected, and built on, their advantage with a strong third.

"A lot of people look at a goal in the last minute of a period and it's a huge momentum shifter, but we came back into this room very confident and went out and did the job in the third," said Anaheim forward Kyle Palmieri, who scored one of two goals by the Ducks' third line. "There's going to be some huge ups and downs. I mean, [goaltender Frederik Andersen] had a phenomenal game, stood on his head. He made a couple of huge saves. As a whole I think defensively we limited them to a lot of outside chances."

The Ducks are 5-0 in the postseason when scoring first; they were 36-5-6 during the regular season. Despite showing its ability for come-from-behind victories this season, getting a lead is a priority for Anaheim in this series; Chicago is 30-0-0 in the regular season and playoffs when leading after two periods.

Center Nate Thompson, who scored Anaheim's other third-line goal, forward Jakob Silfverberg and defenseman Hampus Lindholm each had two points, and Andersen made 32 saves for the Ducks.

Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is Tuesday at Honda Center (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"[The Ducks] played a patient game," Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad said. "We came out and I thought out of the gate we played a pretty good start and felt good about ourselves. Throughout the second and third period, it just got progressively worse, and they took advantage."

Thompson gave the Ducks a 3-1 lead at 12:05 of the third. Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith tried to cut off a long pass at center ice, but the puck got behind him. After Chicago goalie Corey Crawford kicked the rebound of an Andrew Cogliano shot into the slot, Palmieri whiffed on the first rebound attempt, but Thompson put the second into the net for his second goal and first multipoint game of the playoffs.

"We can contribute and take some pressure off guys like [Ryan Getzlaf], [Corey Perry], [Ryan Kesler], [Matt] Beleskey, those guys that kind of been running the ship for us offensively here," Thompson said. "Whenever we can contribute and help out the team, it definitely bodes well for our team."

Silfverberg scored an empty-net goal to seal the Anaheim win. His first try hit the right post, but after a scramble for the rebound, the puck ended up in the net with 1:18 remaining. It was Silfverberg's fourth goal of the postseason. He has 13 points, tied with Getzlaf for second on the Ducks.

Top storylines entering the series included Getzlaf and Perry against Chicago's Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, plus the individual matchup between old rivals Toews and Kesler, but Silfverberg is a great example of the depth the Ducks can deploy. He played 18:31, more than Perry and Kesler.

The Blackhawks dominated large stretches of the first period, but Lindholm scored the lone goal when he one-timed a Silfverberg pass from the Stanley Cup logo near the left point at 8:48.

The shot seemed to fool Crawford. Beleskey knocked Chicago defenseman David Rundblad to the ice in front of Crawford just as the puck was about to arrive. Lindholm has two goals and eight points in the playoffs, including seven in the past eight games.

The Blackhawks outshot the Ducks 16-7 and had 27 shot attempts to Anaheim's 13 in the first period, but Andersen kept it a 1-0 game. His stick save on Kane was the highlight of a strong period for the goaltender.

"When [Andersen] makes big saves like that, guys on the bench calm down and we rebound," Thompson said. "It helps our team in the long run."

Anaheim pushed the lead to two goals early in the second period. The Ducks didn't touch the puck in the Chicago zone for nearly three minutes and didn't put a shot on net until 3:57 in, but a great shift by the fourth line was followed by another from the third line, and Palmieri made it 2-0 at 4:17 of the second.

Palmieri knocked Rundblad off the puck and then cycled it into the corner. Thompson sent the puck toward the net, and when Crawford tried to paddle it away from danger, he put it right on Palmieri's stick in the left circle. It was Palmieri's first goal of the playoffs.

Brad Richards scored in the final minute of the second period after the Blackhawks had failed to generate much following the Ducks' second goal.

A harmless-looking play turned fortuitous after the puck hopped over Francois Beauchemin's stick near center ice. The Anaheim defenseman retreated and collected the puck, but when he tried to flip it toward the Chicago end, Richards knocked it down, and then went around Beauchemin and in alone on Andersen for his second goal of the postseason at 19:20.

The Ducks seemed to play better as the game wore on, and the Blackhawks weren't able to capitalize on any momentum typically associated with a late-period goal.

"We have to take it as it's one game. We still have a chance to come here and do what we want to do and take one from them and try to get home ice back in our favor," Kane said. "We still have that opportunity. Obviously, the next game is huge. We have to come ready to play. I think we have a little bit of a better effort to offer too."

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