DETROIT -- Game 3 of this Western Conference Quarterfinal may have turned in the Anaheim Ducks' favor on an illegal hit, and now the Detroit Red Wings will have to hope history doesn't reveal the series turned on it as well.
Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader was assessed a five-minute major penalty for charging and a game misconduct after hitting Anaheim defenseman Toni Lydman late in the second period of a scoreless game, and the Ducks rolled from that point in a 4-0 victory Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena.
The Ducks scored once on the five-minute power play but controlled play for most of the game after the hit and now hold a 2-1 lead in this best-of-7 series with Game 4 on Monday night here at The Joe.
Nick Bonino scored 18 seconds after the penalty to Abdelkader to put Anaheim in front at 15:29 of the second period. He backhanded a rebound from the edge of the crease for his second goal of the series.
"It was big. That game was back and forth, and we wanted the first goal to get some momentum," Bonino said. "[Anaheim captain Ryan] Getzlaf kind of told us before the power play started to settle down and don't rush because we've got five minutes here. To get that goal before the intermission and go in with the lead was good. It was what we wanted."
Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller made 23 saves, and the Red Wings were shut out in a Stanley Cup Playoff game for the first time since 2007 and the first time in 28 postseason meetings with Anaheim.
Seconds after the Red Wings were inches away from tying the score on a power play at one end, a great individual play by Getzlaf made it a two-goal advantage at the other.
Getzlaf poked the puck away from Detroit forward Damien Brunner while shorthanded, then went past goalie Jimmy Howard and put it in the open net at 6:33 of the third period.
"There's nothing else you can say about that -- that's what big players in this League do," Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said. "That's what your captain has to do, and he's been doing things like that all year. It just shows how lethal he is in all situations. I think that really sunk them."
There was plenty of focus on Abdelkader's hit after the game. He has been a key player for the Red Wings in this series with his physical play, and he drew the penalty that led to the game-winning goal in Anaheim's 5-4 overtime victory in Game 2.
"[Abdelkader's] shoulder hit [Lydman's] shoulder and [Lydman] went down hard and they called it a major," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "He hit him hard. He's a big guy and he hit him hard. ... To me, it was a hard check."
Lydman did not return to the game. Boudreau said afterward the veteran had a headache and was being evaluated.
If Abdelkader is not available for the Red Wings in Game 4, it could be a critical blow for a team already missing Darren Helm and Danny DeKeyser.
"Well, [the top line] is not as good," Babcock said of missing Abdelkader. "We don't have anybody with any kind of weight to play there. That's the bottom line. We tried Brunner and [Gustav] Nyquist and [Joakim] Andersson there. We could put [Johan] Franzen there, but then we're kind of a one-line team. ... When you're really deep and lose people, it is not a big deal. When you're like us and you lose people, it is a big deal."
Ducks rookie Emerson Etem, who created multiple chances earlier in the game, finished a pretty pass from Teemu Selanne to make it 3-0 at 8:04 of the third period. It was the first NHL playoff goal for the Southern California native.
Boudreau said Friday he was going to have a talk with a couple of his young players about wanting to be on the ice in critical situations instead of heading for the bench to avoid mistakes, and after this contest the coach said Etem was one of the players he chatted with.
"His speed is definitely very noticeable," Cogliano said of Etem. "He's able to keep defensemen on their heels, especially when pucks get flipped into the neutral zone, he's able to spring loose and create chances."
Matt Beleskey added the fourth Anaheim goal late in the third after Detroit had taken multiple penalties and the result was no longer in doubt.
One day after Boudreau and a few Ducks players talked about needing to stay out of the penalty box, Anaheim had four guys take up residency there in the opening period. The penalty killers kept Detroit off the scoreboard, limiting the Red Wings to two shots on goal despite being shorthanded for 5:20, including an 80-second 4-on-3 and a 40-second 5-on-3 against.
Babcock said his team "tried to pass the puck into the net," and escaping the stream of penalties without yielding a goal was a big boost for the Ducks.
"We had a lot of opportunities," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "We had a lot of good looks. That's not the way to get the job done. That's why we lost tonight."
Anaheim won Game 1 of this series, 3-1, with a pair of power-play goals. Detroit claimed Game 2 in part because of three straight extra-man markers. The Ducks won the special-teams battle in Game 3, getting Bonino's power-play goal and Getzlaf's shorthanded score.
"When you've got a 1-0 game and you get that second goal in a tight-checking game, it means the world," Boudreau said. "[Ryan's] done that so many times for us this year. Especially on the heels of me giving him crap about the penalty kill last night and he goes out and scores a goal -- that's just the way he is. He's a leader in every sense of the word."
The Ducks controlled play at even strength and limited the Red Wings' chances in the opening minutes. Howard made 13 saves in the opening period, including nine at even strength, and left a scrum at the end of the 20 minutes without his helmet but with the standing-room crowd chanting his name.
By the waning moments of the third period of this contest, most of those 20,066 fans had already exited this old barn, disappointed and hoping to avoid the extra traffic because of a Taylor Swift concert across the city at Ford Field.