ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Playing home games on consecutive nights against teams they eliminated from the playoffs last season presented the defending champion Anaheim Ducks with a stiff challenge, considering how depleted their roster is.
They were happy to come out of it with a satisfying split. Samuel Pahlsson scored a tiebreaking short-handed goal with 10:58 left in the third period to lead the Ducks to a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night.
And it wasn't easy. Todd Bertuzzi was out with a concussion, Todd Marchant was sidelined with a bruised right ankle, and injured defenceman Mathieu Schneider is still at least two weeks away. Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who made his season debut in Sunday's 2-0 loss to Minnesota, is not yet able to play consecutive games - and Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer are still contemplating retirement.
"We were short-staffed. It's not easy to replace those people in your lineup, but it's a situation where other people have an opportunity to play more and others to step up," coach Randy Carlyle said.
Kent Huskins notched his first NHL goal four months after winning his first Stanley Cup ring. Andy McDonald, Chris Kunitz, Corey Perry and Sean O'Donnell also scored for Anaheim and Ryan Getzlaf had three assists.
Kris Draper, Henrik Zetterberg and Brian Rafalski scored for the Red Wings, who returned to Anaheim for the first time since being eliminated from the playoffs in game 6 of the Western Conference finals.
"It's exactly what we expected. Nothing surprised us," Detroit goalie Dominik Hasek said. "They are a physical team, and a good offensive and defensive team. Even though they didn't score too many goals until tonight, you knew sooner or later it was coming. And unfortunately, they scored six against us."
Rob Niedermayer chipped the puck away from Rafalski just inside the Anaheim blue-line and took off on a 2-on-1 break with Pahlsson, who beat Hasek from close range for his seventh career short-handed goal and a 4-3 lead while Perry was serving a holding penalty.
"I was probably the happiest guy in the arena," Perry said. "It was just nice to see out P.K. come through for us. We didn't play our best game last night, so we had to come out tonight and play our style of game. That was probably one of our better games. There were a lot of guys who stepped up."
Tomas Holmstrom was assessed six minor penalties, including a tripping infraction that resulted in Perry's power-play goal with 4:40 remaining.
"There seem to have been a lot of penalties in the last two games, for some reason. I really don't know why, but we've been on the short end of it," Rafalski said.
Trailing 3-1, the Red Wings tied it on goals by Zetterberg and Rafalski less than two minutes apart in the second period against Ilya Bryzgalov. Rafalski, who helped New Jersey win two Stanley Cups before joining Detroit as a free agent in July, got the equalizer at 13:36 of the period during a 5-on-3 power play.
Draper extended his goal-scoring streak to a career-best five games, and Zetterberg extended his to four. Draper, Zetterberg and Holmstrom have combined to score 15 goals this season.
"Detroit's got a tremendous amount of skill up front, so the only was you neutralize that is to stop their progression and be physical," Carlyle said. "That's one of the mandates that our club has to play to. And it's not just against Detroit. It's everybody."
Kunitz put Anaheim ahead 2-1 at 9:31 of the first period, converting a rebound of Chris Pronger's 40-foot slap shot during a power play. The assist was Pronger's 400th in the NHL.
McDonald extended Anaheim's margin to 3-1 at 5:14 of the second with his first goal of the season. It came on a 40-foot wrist shot that changed direction off the stick of Red Wings defenceman Niklas Kronwall and fluttered over Hasek's glove.
Notes: Detroit D Chris Chelios turns 46 in January, which would make him three years older than Gordie Howe was when he played his final game for the Red Wings. Howe played his final NHL game at age 52 with the Hartford Whalers. ... Detroit is one of seven clubs that have yet to have a rookie play for them this season. Rookie LW Igor Grigorenko, still waiting to make his NHL debut with the Red Wings after his near-fatal car accident four years ago, is currently with their AHL team in Grand Rapids. ... Detroit coach Mike Babcock, who guided the Ducks to the Stanley Cup finals in 2003, has a chance to become the first coach in NHL history to win at least 50 regular-season games in each of his first three seasons with one team.