The Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division and owned the best record in the Western Conference powered by their one-two punch of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. But in the Ducks' 4-1 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final, they showed off their depth with the third line combining for two goals and two assists.
The win was especially sweet for third-line right wing Kyle Palmieri, who scored 14 goals in 57 regular-season games but none in nine Stanley Cup Playoff games. When Palmieri connected at 4:17 of the second period, it was his first goal since March 28.
Trailing by a goal, the Blackhawks were making a push until Nate Thompson collected the puck and found Palmieri, who made it 2-0 Anaheim with a sliding shot that beat goalie Corey Crawford.
"It started with [linemate Andrew Cogliano]," Palmieri said after the game. "He had some good speed on the entry. I threw a puck at the net and it bounced off their pads and it kind of just cycled off that. We got the puck low and Nate made a great play taking the puck to the net and throwing it from a bad angle. The puck popped out, I was lucky enough to get it over his shoulder."
The win moved the Ducks to 9-1 in the playoffs and 6-0 at Honda Center, their best streak on home ice since 2003, when they won seven straight en route to the Stanley Cup Final.
Game 2 is Tuesday in Anaheim (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
"It feels nice to get that first one of the playoffs," Palmieri said. "We had a couple chances tonight and maybe could have had a couple more, but we played well on the forecheck and we went out there and played the style of game where we're fast, and we capitalized on a couple of their mistakes and we have to keep that going moving forward.
"Once we got to the second period, we played the majority of that the way that we wanted to. And then in the third period, we kept our foot on the gas. Obviously, they were going to get some chances because they're a great team. Going forward, we've got to just have a better start on Tuesday and go from there."