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Ducks build big lead, hold off Stars in Game 1

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- The sting of last season's Stanley Cup Playoffs was a talking point for the Anaheim Ducks in training camp. It was referenced liberally this week and literally worn on their sleeves in the form of "Unfinished Business" T-shirts.

They followed through Wednesday with a 4-3 win against the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round series at Honda Center. The Ducks, the Western Conference regular-season champions, blitzed the Stars with a three-goal first period, and rookie goalie Frederik Andersen won his NHL playoff debut.

Game 2 is Friday at Honda Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS, FS-W, FS-SW), and the Ducks' immediate concern is captain Ryan Getzlaf, who took a Tyler Seguin slap shot to the face with 16 seconds left and went to the dressing room.

"I think he's going to be OK, but he's probably going to have a little nasty cut on the side of his mouth," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "As far as I know, nothing else is there. But I'll know more tomorrow."

Andersen, who got the nod over veteran Jonas Hiller and fellow rookie John Gibson, justified coach Boudreau's decision to start him by making 32 saves. The Ducks revived their underachieving power with two scores in a statement playoff game, their first since they were eliminated by the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals last year.

"I think it was us just being excited," forward Corey Perry said. "[We were] back on a big stage, and everybody wants to play and everybody wants to win. You're going to have ups and downs in the playoffs, but if you can keep an even keel, you're going to be all right."

Anaheim will need to work on avoiding those ups and downs after Dallas turned a 4-0 game into a one-goal nail biter and had a chance to get even in the final minutes. The Ducks had trouble taking care of the puck in the second half of the game and were charged with 13 giveaways. That will probably be a teachable moment for Game 2.

"I'm sure we didn't put the fear of God into them tonight, and [Dallas] probably gained some confidence," Boudreau said.

Dallas played its first playoff game since May 19, 2008, and looked ill-equipped to handle Anaheim's skill and depth at the start in a pumped-up arena. But Jamie Benn scored during a two-man advantage at 16:36 of the second period, and Colton Sceviour beat Andersen on a quick snap shot at 18:11 to pull the Stars to 4-2 after two periods.

Seguin made it 4-3 with a tip of Trevor Daley's shot at 13:53 of the third, but the Stars couldn't get even despite a combined 15 shots by Benn's line in the game.

"The way we finished was how we want to play the full game," Seguin said. "I'm not saying I don't think we had a good start. I thought the first 10-12 minutes, we played pretty well. We didn't capitalize on some opportunities, even though they did. I definitely liked our no-quite attitude out there and performance."

Andersen made a point-blank save on Benn right after the Stars made it 4-2. He also stopped Cody Eakin late in the third. Asked what he takes away from the game, Andersen said, "A win. That's definitely what I wanted out of this game. But now it's over with, the first game. I think we can settle in like we want to. Hopefully it's going to be a really long playoffs for us - two months - but we'll take it in steps."

Anaheim built a 3-0 lead on 10 shots in the first period. Mathieu Perreault capped it with a crisp-moving power play goal, a one-timer off Patrick Maroon's threaded cross-ice pass through Jordie Benn's legs at 18:30.

Speed figured to be a factor in the series, and the Ducks showed theirs by beating the Stars in transition for their first two goals. Getzlaf finished a rush with a tap-in of Matt Beleskey's rebound at 12:49, after a blocked shot at the other end. Kyle Palmieri opened the scoring 1:53 into the game when he backhanded a great saucer pass by Nick Bonino over a diving Aaron Rome and past Kari Lehtonen.

Anaheim had eight players on the score sheet in the first 20 minutes and went to the dressing room to a standing ovation.

Dallas' power play went 0 for 3 in the first period, with two shots total.

""We had a tough start," Jamie Benn said. "They came out hot in their building. They are really good in this rink. I thought we battled back pretty good there, but it just wasn't enough."

The Stats' frustration with their inability to curb Anaheim's speed and skill and penetrate Andersen manifested itself when Ryan Garbutt took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with a snow shower of Andersen midway through the second period. Francois Beauchemin converted it into Anaheim's second power-play goal, a slap shot off Beleskey's hip at 9:04 for a 4-0 lead.

It was the first time Anaheim scored more than one power play goal since it went 6 for 11 in a 9-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Jan.15.

Beleskey left the game with a lower-body injury, and Boudreau said he's been dealing with it prior.

Dallas defenseman Brenden Dillon was scratched with a lower-body injury.

Andersen became the third rookie goaltender in Ducks history to play in a playoff game. Tom Askey (1999) and Ilya Bryzgalov (2006) were the others.

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