– In the end, they were right there.
Sure, the Anaheim Ducks
were frustrated after dropping Game 1 of their Western Conference Semifinal series against the Detroit Red Wings
in the final minute of regulation, as Nicklas Lidstrom
scored with just 49.1 seconds to go in a 3-2 decision at Joe Louis Arena.
But the Ducks knew it wasn’t going to be easy. That being said, they certainly can feel good about the fact they went toe-to-toe with the defending Stanley Cup champions -- in their building, no less.
Anaheim will get a chance to earn a split in the first two games of this series when the teams meet again on Sunday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
"We were right there with a couple of minutes left," Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer
said. "We’ll be ready to go again on Sunday."
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle
admitted he had a bit of a problem with the way the game was officiated, as Detroit was awarded six power plays compared to Anaheim’s three – not to mention the controversial five-minute major and game misconduct handed to Ducks forward Mike Brown
for his open-ice hit on Jiri Hudler
in the first period.
Still, Anaheim was in it until the very end.
"I’m upset from a standpoint that we missed an opportunity and I don’t think a coach is going to always be happy about the officiating in the game," Carlyle said. "I’m not using the officiating as an excuse. Does the officiating have some effect on my temperament? Yes, but that’s not the reason."
Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger
– who logged more than 26 minutes of ice time in Game 1 – is confident that his team can respond with a victory on Sunday. One of the keys, of course, is to stay out of the penalty box.
"We’re not discouraged … we’re disappointed," Pronger said. "We can’t have double the penalties that they did. There were opportunities for them to get momentum. That can’t happen – not with a team like that. You can’t let them get on the transition like they did tonight."
Detroit certainly enjoyed the bulk of the opportunities late in the game, as it outshot Anaheim by a margin of 18-7 in the third period. Jonas Hiller
kept the Ducks in the game by stopping 17 of those shots, but he was unable to deny Lidstrom’s rebound that stood up as the winner.
"The last 10 minutes or so, they had us on our heels," Pronger said. "We had too many turnovers."
In less than 48 hours, the Ducks will have a chance to redeem themselves. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is expecting a similar type of game – one that won’t be dominated by either squad for the full 60 minutes. Instead, they’ll each have opportunities to control the tempo.
"Both teams dominated at times, and that’s what happens when you’re playing good teams," Babcock said. "Both teams have a lot of skill. I was scared about tonight. It’s a good way to start."
Contact Brian Compton at: firstname.lastname@example.org